Yes, I saw Star Wars, Episode III. But that’s not the war I’m talking about.
My daughter and I went to the midnight showing of “Revenge of the
Sith”. (Quick review: Yes, worth seeing; no, Lucas still can’t write
a love scene.) But this blog is not about the movie, it’s about the
Imagine this picture… You are in a room full of Star Wars geeks,
many of whom are dressed in elaborate costumes with expensive (as in
over $200) light sabers. You have been waiting for hours for the show
to start, and have suffered through the trailers. The obligatory
“Please turn off all cell phones” and “Remember our concession stand”
message are now playing and the movie event of the year is just
seconds away from starting.
Pause now with this picture in your mind and think about how the Star
Wars movies always start. I know you’ve seen them. The big STAR WARS
logo flashes on screen, the brass fanfare sounds and the words “In a
galaxy far, far away” start scrolling on the screen.
Also remember that if you are at the midnight showing, then you are
there not only for the movie (which you will probably see several
times over the next few weeks), but for the experience, the event!
The final movie is showing and you just want to drink in the
experience and feel the mood.
And then seconds before the movie starts… the projector skips a beat
and the frame gets out of synchronization with the projector. The top
half of the screen is now showing at the bottom, and the bottom of the
screen is at the top. The logo was split across the screen so that it
The room was in an uproar! Chants of “FIX IT” and “RESTART” echoed
throughout the theater. The crowd reacted as if the projector
malfunction was ruining the whole experience. Someone in the back
of the room stood up and blocked the projection beam so that the
picture could not be seen … and the crowd cheered because they did
not want to see a flawed first performance (why shutting one’s eyes
was not sufficient was never clear to me).
The theater staff was not exactly helpful. At first someone came out
and said that they would get it fixed shortly and would restart the
film. And they did get it fixed within a few minutes, but didn’t
restart it. It didn’t matter, the crowd was so upset that they kept
chanting “RESTART” after the picture was fixed. Finally the staff
came out and said that weren’t able to restart it (never sure just
why), and that the problem was in all the theaters (Really? In all 20
theaters in the movieplex? In what way are the theaters linked so
that the same problem happens in all them at the same time?)
Finally it was obvious that they weren’t restarting it, and the crowd
settled down and we could begin to watch the show. At that point, we
were in the middle of a space battle (I’m not quite sure who was
fighting who), and there were little drilling droids on Obi wan’s
fighter. Oh well, it was Star Wars and we settled in to enjoy it.
An aside: You got to believe that a significant portion of that
midnight showing crowd was planning on multiple viewings of the movie.
Lets say two-thirds were planning on seeing it more than once. With
20 sold out theaters with 200 to 300 people per theater makes (around)
5000 people there that night. Now if two-thirds of 5000 were going to
pay to see the movie twice, but now have a free pass, that right
around $30,000 that was lost that night. Wow. That’s an expensive
Oh, and I have one other piece of advice to those going to midnight
Star Wars showings. If you are going to go in costume, go all out and
do it right. If you show up with a Darth Vadar helmet that looks like
it came from a K-Mart Halloween costume rack, and the Darth Vadar
standing next to you looks as if he just stepped off the movie set
... well, you look pretty silly.