Can a cinema house intentionally undermine the sale and performance of a movie? I will let you be the judge of that after I present what I saw, heard, and experienced tonight at the premier of Eddie’s “Tower Heist.”
After months of anticipation for this movie, I perfected my plans: chiropractic visit, laugh my head off during the movie (after all, it is Eddie), run back home to walk my dogs, have dinner, and spend the night regaling friends of the fantastic attributes of this most-expected movie.
Upon arrival at Movies 278 in Hiram, the ticketing agent informed me that I could not watch the movie at my preferred 5:15 P.M. time because Theater 4 was experiencing technical problems.
Immediately, I saw this veiled rouse as an attempt to sabotage Eddie Murphy’s movie. “Are you going to charge me the matinee price?” I asked with rightful expectation.
“No, ma’am. I can’t.”
Imagine my surprise! Without exchanging any additional words, I walked out, angered at the audacity of this movie theater in trying to cause this movie to flop.
The ticketing agent had the nerve to ask me to pay full price for a movie for which I clearly had intended to pay matinee price, a movie for which they have inconvenienced me and now want to rearrange all my plans for the entire evening. I also saw this as an attempt to make two quick bucks per customer.
I almost reached my car when another righteous indignation took a hold of me. I spun around, walked back into the theater, stewed in that annoyance while I waited my turn with the utmost self-control, and asked to see the manager when I arrived at the window.
Before I walked out, there was no further evidence of deception except the words that emanated out of the cahier’s lips. Now, the management went as far as covering the remaining three show times (5 O’clock, 7 P.M., and 10 O’clock) with handwritten “Sold Out!” signs that screamed at me and the other patrons. It must have become tired of telling people of the “experiencing-technical-problems-in-Theater-4” lie.
When the very young gentleman came to address my concerns, I stated that I was aware of his movie house’s attempt to shaft Eddie Murphy’s movie and cause it to fail. “Why is it that all the other movies in your theater have no problem except ‘Tower Heist’?” I demanded.
At which point he saw fit to explain, “We got bought out by Carmike and are switching to a digital system. We used to have reel-to-reel. We do not have a physical movie anymore. Otherwise, none of this would have happened.”
Not only was my anger incensed further by this pitiful lie, I was insulted by his presumption that the public would not make any fuss. Several thoughts flooded my mind in a question nature. Why did this management not plan ahead? What was so destructive about the machine in Theater Four that, by all intents and purposes, earlier shows had gone without a glitch (presumably) until we arrived at the 5:15 show? Suddenly, “Houston, we have a problem?”
Are there not some laws that this movie theater is breaking? Public deception, sabotage, falsification of information, a bold attempt to cover its own lies by stating that a movie is sold out when it is not, scheming to charge the public a full price rather than the matinee price, defrauding the producers and the entire cast and crew of their future earnings, and so on?
“I am disappointed with what your movie theater is doing,” I continued. “Look at all these people. They are leaving; they are getting upset, obviously. Like me, they had plans, and now your theater is changing those plans selfishly and with the hidden motive to make more money.”
I actually heard a couple say the same exact thing. “We came to see the 5:15 show. That ruins our plans for the entire evening.”
“I am sorry, ma’am, but I do not like what you are insinuating.”
“I am not insinuating. I am stating flat out that your movie theater is trying to mess up the premier of “Tower Heist. I came to watch the 5:15 show. You closed it down, but you want to charge me the full price when it was not my fault that you are experiencing ‘technical problems.’ The cashier wants to charge me a full fare. I will not pay it.
“Here is the $7 for the matinee price,” and I stretched out my hand with the correct amount it in. “That is what I am going to pay. It is the rightful course of action considering what your theater is doing.”
He paused for a second, which gave my long-winded self the chance to pounce.
“You have altered my plans for the entire evening. I had wanted to see the movie and run home to walk my dogs. Now, I have to run home, walk my dogs, and run back here, which clearly would be a waste of my time and gasoline, and I cannot eat my dinner until after the movie ends around 9 P.M., which goes against my weight-monitoring rules.
It usually takes me 30 minutes on a good day to get here. Now, with the merciless 5 O’clock traffic, it is going to take me twice that long.”
“I clearly understand your frustration. I would be upset as well. Tell you what. You can watch the movie on the house.”
This was an unexpected twist of events. I inquired how that would work. He asked me to wait for a minute, was gone for that long, and handed me a square slip of paper with “EMP $0.00” and Theater 11 stamped on it, among other relevant and irrelevant pieces of information.
Even though I watched the movie for free, I still believe that this movie theater intentionally meant to cause Eddie Murphy’s movie to flop. Whether it will fail due to poor sales remains to be seen. I also wondered if this same dubious tactic was practiced elsewhere by other movie theaters. Was there a hidden agenda here, a veiled attempt to cause this movie to fail by Movies 278 and other cinemas elsewhere?
The Federal Trade Commission, the Screen Actors Guild, the Department of justice, or whatever arm of the law oversees business practices that restrain trade for others need to turn its spotlight on this theater’s actions today, actions that must have broken several laws.
For a much publicized movie, there were no posters of the movie anywhere in that theater, not claiming its earned display outside with the other movies, nor inside in the lobby or on the walls, not one poster. Movies 278’s activities today stank of mischief, deception, and sabotage. “Tower Heist” has been robbed!