I was browsing through the news posts, and I was honestly startled at the number of posts related to Episode III theater horror stories (reel breaks, projector malfunctions, meltdowns, etc.) Perhaps the physical film that Lucasfilm distributed is corrupt? Regardless, I felt compelled to chime in with my own account of a Revenge of the Sith "midnight showing" gone sour.
My brother and I went to (what was supposed to be) a midnight screening of EP3 at the River Fill 10 Cinema in Pikeville, KY. After waiting outside the theater for over five hours for the doors to open (my brother actually waited in line an additional five hours to buy tickets), the teenagers running the place finally opened the doors around 11:30 p.m.
Once we entered the cinema, we soon found ourselves thanking God for blessing us with such great seats (even had small children sitting in front of us, as opposed to some eight-foot Wookiee!).
Around 11:40 p.m., we were bursting with excitement because we knew it would only be a matter of minutes before "the big one" began. At 11:55 p.m., everyone in the theater was on the edge of their seats. Come midnight, the natives were beyond restless. Glow-in-the-dark lightsabers were swinging back and forth, and shouts of glee were resonating throughout the cinema, for the time to see the final Star Wars movie was nigh . . . or so we thought.
Suddenly, a preview of a Will Smith film popped on the screen, and the audience applauded loudly because the show was on . . . or so we thought. After a few seconds had passed, the film stopped, and the lights came back on. Plenty of jeers and obscenities were heard at this point. No explanation was given; no apology uttered.
Several minutes later, the film started up again. Once more, the audience applauded in relief, with the exception of my brother, his friend Kevin, and myself, because we knew better. "Don't get your hopes up, people," I said. Sadly, my predictions were accurate. Another lousy preview started playing, and within a few seconds, the projector "died" again. As expected, the jeers and obscenities intensified, and a riot was imminent. Everyone was staring and/or shouting angrily at the person in the projector booth. It seemed as though the person had cued the wrong film because he or she was fiddling around with it and looking totally confused. I mean, these people had all day to prepare for this midnight screening. What transpired was totally inexcusable!
Believe it or not, this sheer torment carried on until about 1:10 in the morning, when the genius running the projector finally got the correct film rolling! And, as if waiting in line for nearly half a day to see a midnight screening of EP3--only to be teased & tortured for more than an hour in cinema hell--wasn't bad enough, our suffering was multiplied as we were forced to endure five or six blasted previews!!!
Without a doubt, that was the worst experience I have ever had at a movie theater. The worst part is, neither the manager nor a staff member had the common courtesy to apologize to the crowd or offer us even a contrived explanation for the huge inconvenience. They didn't even have the decency to give people a refund unless they decided to leave, which several people did. No free movie passes; no discounts; not even a free tub of popcorn, for cryin' out loud!
I just thank the Lord that there wasn't a violent uprising (everyone was probably too exhausted!), because it may have been justified in this case. (On a happier note, we did get entertained by a couple of zealous lightsaber duelers who had the whole crowd laughing as they battled from one side of the cinema to the other! Princess Leia was also in attendance, looking strikingly like a young Carrie Fisher from A New Hope.)
Despite the outrageous delays, Revenge of the Sith played flawlessly once it actually started, and the superbness of the movie made up for the whole nightmarish incident. I only wish the film had been (at least) half an hour longer. I didn't want it to end, and I doubt any Star Wars fan would disagree with me.