Premiere, with an e at the end, refers to the first public performance or showing of something, such as a movie or play. It can be a noun or a verb—for example, a movie premieres at its premiere. Premier, without the e, is (1) an adjective meaning first in status, and (2) a noun denoting a prime minister.
Both words have origins in the French adjective premier, meaning first in a sequence or first in quality. Premier came to English much earlier, however. Examples of its use can be found from as long ago as the 15th century. Premiere actually comes from the feminine of the adjective, première, and is short for première représentation, meaning first presentation. That phrase had already been shortened to just première in French when the word jumped over to English in the late 19th century.
Some publications retain the grave accent over the second e in premiere, but English is never kind to these marks, and the word is much more commonly used without the accent.
Idol drew 20.7 million viewers in the first hour against the season premiere of Survivor, which pulled 11.2 million. [USA Today]
For many of us an opportunity to walk the red carpet at a movie premiere would be unmissable. [Daily Mail]
During their conversation, Mr Mubarak confided to the reformist Kenyan premier that he intended to stand for a sixth term this year. [Financial Times]
But over the last few years, coffee yields have plummeted here and in many of Latin America’s other premier coffee regions. [New York Times]
Last month, his powerful Right faction forced him to stand down as treasurer and deputy premier, but he remains on the front bench. [The Australian]