What is the deal with movie preview special offers? Who goes to these things?
Thanks to my penchant for blindly signing up for anything I’m asked to, I somehow got on a mailing list for one of those marketing companies that arranges test screenings of new movies. At too-frequent intervals, I get invitations to appear at a local theater for a special pre-release VIP screening of some movie I’ve never heard of, the name of which is usually buried three levels deep in the signup form. These are the screenings you sometimes see at theaters, where you’re just trying to get to your movie and the entire lobby is filled with a line of kids snaking out the door to the sidewalk, being yelled at by a bunch of young people wearing matching polo shirts and holding clipboards, milling around like obedient sheep who have obviously already gotten used to a long wait.
But seriously – other than teenagers who are easily excited and can’t afford regular tickets, who does this? I’m supposed to go through some complicated signup procedure for this totally random movie, turn up at a specified hour at the theater and stand in line for up to another hour taking instructions from ex-cheerleaders, being dutifully careful not to have anything with me that takes pictures or records audio (like, say, every cellphone, iPad, and laptop computer in existence) so as not to possibly infringe on the precious intellectual property rights of the producers of “Jackass IV Redux: 3D!”, and then wait to find out if I will actually be allowed to see the movie since the theater is overbooked and simply having an invitation only gives me the right to stand in line, not actually see the film. If I’m lucky, I do get to go into the theater to see a test version of a movie that’s still in post-production, and then spend another half hour filling out response cards and surveys for the benefit of the producers (I’m working for them, now). And all this for a movie which I don’t actually know I would want to see even if it were finished yet.
I keep getting these invites but I’ve never once attempted to take advantage of (or, let myself be taken advantage of by) one. I need to see about getting off some mailing lists.