Creative Commons License photo credit: arbyreed

For almost six years I go to a movie theater at least once in a week. But I do not go to movies I know of. That is boring. With at least 10 friends I attend Sneak Previews which not only give me the chance to watch bad movies and movies I never thought I would. They also give me the chance to experience sometimes truly crazy and unusual happenings a normal movie goer might never see.

So here it is. The Top Ten of the most unusual and crazy experiences in a Movie Theater:

10. Wrong movie tickets
In the last few years we had all combinations of wrong one can think of. Wrong Time, wrong theater number, wrong seats, and wrong week. The last one was a true bastard because we didn’t see THAT one coming. Of course we always check the number of the theater, the seats and the time. But let’s admit it: who ever checks the week? It was only pure luck that we noticed the error.

9. What?
In conjunction with number 10 is this one. For some years an old lady was working in one of the booths to sell tickets. It was a nice and somehow cool old lady. The only problem besides her tardiness? She didn’t understand anything about the computer system and the theater themselves. You want an example? Out of all possibilities her question “What is a Sneak?” is the one to win hands down. She was also the source of all the ticket problems above. Boy, I miss her.

8. The Yellow Threat
In my hometown „my“ Sneak Preview is in two ways unique: for one, we have a moderator (Sneak Master) who talks about the latest Sneak Happenings and for the other, we get presents from him. Poster, CD’s, Sweets and so on. Think of anything you can throw and we had it. By the numbers of hands that raise to catch something you know how popular an item/movie/franchise is (Matrix = Bad). Now, for some time our Sneak Master threw something yellow into the audience and the numbers of hands and screams to get attention truly topped everything that ever came before or after. I write one word only: Spongebob.

7. Who let the light shine?
Normally a theater is dark so you can see the movie. Fair enough I think. Well, one time it wasn’t. For some reason a light in one of the galleries was shining (side note: our theater is rather small and not “modern”). For one week we believed that this was some bureaucracy going berserk. Well, we were wrong. And do you want to know which movie was lit? Stephen Kings THE MIST. Quite fitting.

6. Paranoia-Land
A Sneak Preview is one step close to disaster for the movie industry. At least the companies think that way. For that reason they sometimes sent bodyguards for the movies along with them. Three times already. Top notch were the times when the bodyguards not only checked us at the entrance so we turn out everything electronic but they also patrolled during the sneak preview. With flashlights. Paranoia-Land, here I come…

5. Lenses? What lenses?
This is another “event” that happened not so long ago. I think it was another Horror/Thriller sneak. You know, slowly but surely I start to believe that the operator is so scared of those kinds of movies that he cannot afford to check the screen if everything is going well. This must be the reason why we watched the first ten minutes of a child-is-evil-and-no-one-checks-movie vertically compressed because of a wrong lens. After the operator noted the problem he of course changed it. And during the next ten minutes we were wondering if the movie now was vertically stretched.

4. Movie? What Movie? (*evil smirk*)
This one was rather evil and something a normal movie goer truly will never experience: One time the Sneak Master intentionally gave us ten minutes of the wrong movie. When the wrong one started a small minority was applauding but most of us were pissed because we didn’t want to see that one. You won’t believe how relieved we were when the movie suddenly stopped and our Sneak Master came in again to tell us “Joke, was simply some advertising for this movie.” Boy, those who applauded must have been pissed.

3. Good Bye…
This one also came unexpected. Two years ago the usual event took place. Sneak Master moderating, presents, tip for next week, movie starts. Well, after five minutes the lights went suddenly up and the movie went dark. While we were wondering what was happening, four employees entered the room and dragged two people out. We never asked what happened…Just to be safe…Because the seats stayed empty for the rest of the movie.

2. Turn it up. TURN IT UP!
This is one of the coolest and craziest things I have ever seen in cinema. You all know THE SIMPSONS, don’t you? In one episode they do a THX prank/send-up/ridicule/whatever when Grandpa Simpsons is in a theater and the THX Trailer kicks in. Now, while some heads explode and other funny things happen, he simply sits there screaming “Turn it up. TURN. IT. UP.” Now imagine this scene as a true THX-Trailer in a movie theater years before the Simpsons really entered the big screen. And now imagine an audience of crazies coming loose. What an experience. Sadly, we could watch this trailer only once in all those years as this is one of some super rare prints and they want to save it. But it doesn’t matter. It was worth every single second.

1. Digital Projector of Doom
Do you think a film tear or other material related problem is only an analogue one and soon something of the past? We thought so, too. Until one day we had a digital presentation and the movie again and again surprised us with minutes of stuttering accompanied with asynchronous audio and some typical coding artifacts. All of us with Windows experience waited for the moment the well known blue screen of death would show up. Well, it gladly didn’t. One week later we learned what caused the problems: bad hard drive. So much for digital is better.

These are the Top Ten of the most unusual experiences in a movie theater of the last six years. Some were “strange” but most were funny and I would never want to forget them because this creates a true charm of and for cinema. I can’t wait until something like that happens again.

And of course this question had to come up: did you have similar experiences or even some crazier ones? Tell us your stories!

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