Grumpy Friday: East Coast Misses Out On Seeing Captain America Early

BY MIKE REYES

And now, a special rant from our resident Rageaholic, Manhattan Mike…

Fan Screening

It all started with this tweet last Thursday. The tweet pictured above, which was promised a week in advance, was supposed to hold the key to seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier at an early “Fan Screening.” After being quick to the punch, I snagged a pass for two for a screening on March 20th (last night) in King of Prussia, Pa.  Excitement, naturally, commenced. Who wouldn’t get excited about scoring a pass to an upcoming movie early, especially this one?!

Look back at our coverage of the trailers! Look back to anything we’ve done relating to Marvel, and you’ll see that we’re pretty geeked out when it comes to Comic Movies in general, but especially with The Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hell, as a Christmas gift, I got the Phase I collection and Iron Man 3 from Overlord Tim! We’re knee deep into this stuff, and would save the world alongside The Avengers any day of the week! Even my girlfriend is really into the Marvel universe. Enough so that she tagged along for last night’s event. Little did we know that as quickly as we were excited by the prospect of the film, we were just as quickly dashed of the chance to see it.

The start of my journey was leaving work, which is a 1.5 hour/2 hour commute, depending on traffic. After that 1.5 hour commute, I picked up my girlfriend at her parent’s house, and proceeded to drive another 1.5 hours to get to King of Prussia, Pa. There was light traffic and a lot of lights, all because I was trying to avoid tolls, but it was still a haul. As soon as we got there, we noticed a good amount of cars in the lot, which was to be expected. After all, for the two of us coming from Central Jersey, we either had New York or King of Prussia as our screening options. Opting for not having to pay to ride NJ Transit, as well as a theater we’re extremely comfortable with, we chose the venue we did.

Picture a long hallway, with people lined up from almost one end of it to the other, then looping back around a quarter of the way on the other end of the hall. That’s exactly what we walked into when we got to the theater last night. An hour before show time, and the line was THAT long. This brings me to my first point of contention with See ItFirst.net: why do they even do ticketing to an event like this if it’s “first come, first serve.”  If the ticket is useless, why have teeming masses of fans crash your website (or make it lag beyond all Hell) only to turn them away at the door?

Screening Pass

They should be keeping track of how many passes they’re giving out. If you have a limited number of seats, only give out that many passes of 2 people; OR if you give out a certain number of passes to the movie, make sure you have that many seats open. Seriously, there was a week to determine how many people had passes. Why didn’t the site either start numbering the passes in the system, or rent out another couple theaters? Who’s seeing 300: Rise of an Empire or Mr. Peabody and Sherman on a Thursday night?

Back to the narrative, as we stood in line, a person representing those in charge came around to ask if anyone had “Marvel Ultimate Plus” tickets? Something sounding that trumped up and that ridiculous needed to be researched, and as we would find out the Marvel Ultimate Plus plan is one where, for $100 a year, you get access to digital Marvel comics. Seriously, there were subscribers at this event? When it was supposed to be a free for all ticketing event?

Harley Davidson had a preview screening on a separate night, why not the Marvel Ultimate Plus subscribers? It was a “first come, first serve” event, and you granted preferential access to a group of variables that we other “fans” didn’t know about, thus decreasing our odds for success. Congratulations guys, you’ve  not only insulted the Fans who waited online for tickets,  you insulted the Marvel Ultimate Plus subscribers  because you should be having a “Subscribers Only” event strictly for them!

The screening was scheduled for 7:30 PM, and by time 7:33 rolled around, we figured they were either setting up another room, or they were getting ready to drop the hammer. Sure enough, a member of Regal Management (whom I, and pretty much everyone else, did not hold responsible for the screw up of the evening) announced that the screening was overbooked and filled. Disappointment in the air, my girlfriend and I started to walk out of line, before hearing “if you give us your email, we’ll email you about a future screening.”

HD Screening

So a future screening on another night I have to do all of this again? Why couldn’t you do another screening THAT NIGHT? As a Doctor Who fan, I’ve seen crowds BIGGER than this one accommodated. BBC America’s PR team somehow, through some Time Lord magic on their end, manages to scale its events accordingly EVERY TIME. They even went out of their way to accommodate fans who didn’t get to see the first showing of the Series 6 premiere in New York! If a British Sci Fi show can rent out a theater in The Village and manage to accommodate a crowd lined around a city block for pretty much an entire day, then the BBC has just done its job better than Marvel and Disney COMBINED.

Naturally, my girlfriend and I went to the table where everyone was lining up, and I signed my name and email address onto a sheet of notebook paper, in addition to slipping them my official C&M card. As far as an “official explanation” in terms of how things got to this point, there were conflicting stories. On one end, it was overheard that they were tired of patting people down for recording devices, which was taking too long and cutting too close to when the movie was about to start. Some were saying that they were told that they’d email people about a future screening. A future screening that, at the time, ALSO wouldn’t be guaranteed to anyone. While I was surprised by this, a friend of mine wasn’t as he told me they did this same thing with The Avengers back in 2012. Apparently, they still haven’t learned their lesson, and knowing they would probably screw it up again, my friend opted out of even trying.

I know to a lot of people this  event is just gravy on the potatoes. “The tickets said ‘first come, first served, no late-comers admitted’. They don’t owe you anything.” “You didn’t pay anything for them, so why are you complaining?” Well, I’m complaining because they broke both of those very important rules in the same night. Marvel Universe Plus members were first served, and they were still letting people into the theaters after 7:30. How am I, or any other fan, expected to play by the rules when you see it fit to break them? Also to me, this screening means a little more than any old movie screening would. As an upstart film critic, advanced screenings like these are the closest I can get to Critics Screenings. Seeing a movie in advance, I can write up a review and have it out on a Wednesday before release… just like the major leaguers do. This makes me  happy, and I’m sure Overlord Tim is happy to potentially have some increased traffic with advanced reviews. It’s why I was so thrilled I got to see Need For Speed a month in advance. That screening  went so smoothly with the company that I was impressed with the company that had organized the screening… SeeItFirst.net.Need for Speed Cocktails and Movies

This time though, I was disappointed. And not only was I disappointed, but so was everyone else who waited in line, dressed in costume, brought their kids and even took off of work to see this… only to be denied access.  With an event like this, there are things you DON’T do. You don’t overbook past capacity, because you know EVERYONE will show up (and even if they don’t, there’s always pulling random moviegoers from the lobby.) You don’t leave people  hanging past the scheduled show time when you know the cold calculus of the matter is that you’re going to have to cut off the line. Most of all, you don’t wait until the afternoon after to push something into people’s  email boxes. Because that’s when articles like this get written. That’s when tweets like those I sent last night to Disney and Marvel happen. And once The Internet gets wind of what you’ve done… it’s hard to call it back, and word travels fast.

The story does have a happy-ish ending: The girl and I saw Divergent in the Regal Premium Experience format (the –ish part of the night), and this afternoon, I received an email stating that March 31st will be the next preview screening at King of Prussia, and I have two reserved seats (the Happy part.) I will give SeeItFirst.net another shot at this whole trust thing, but now that this precedent has been set, I’m going to be uber wary of them until they  decide to revise their system in accordance with the modern world of fandom we live in today.

But whatever you do, don’t get me STARTED on how much bull it was in the first place to have a “Fan Voting” contest that pretty much ensured 10 major cities would receive screenings, thus forcing us peasant fans to drive all the way to another state, only to be disappointed.

What sort of nightmare screening stories do you guys have? Throw some shade in the Comments below, or on our various Social Media accounts! After all, we’re all in this together! #GeekPower