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View Full Version : Anyone ever attend a surprise movie screening?


TGM
06-21-12, 07:39 AM
I thought I remember some news stories about people who go somewhere thinking they are attending a screening for some new generic sounding flick, and it ends up being a sly way to do advanced screenings for big hits, like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, etc.

Has anyone been privy to such an event? and if so, tell me about it.

islandclaws
06-21-12, 10:10 AM
My buddy got tickets for a mystery screening a couple years ago for a "big summer action movie". At the time, I figured it was either The Expendables or Knight & Day.

It was Knight & Day, and we were the first audience ever to see it. Temp score in places, unfinished effects, you know...

Coolest part was that Cruise sat behind my friend and I, but he ducked in after the lights went down so no one else saw him but us. He laughed a lot, usually before something funny happened since he knew what was coming.

Mabuse
06-21-12, 12:28 PM
I went to a college in LA and there were always recruiters standing around on campus asking people, "Do you want to see a movie?" They were soliciting to get people to go to test screenings. You would sign up and they would call you and tell you where and when, but they wouldn't tell you the title or any details. I never did it. Test screenings are evil. Just to show you how evil, they would actually ask people if they were film students and if you said yes they would say they don't want film students. It was like they didn't want discerning intelligent people in the test audience.

I did participate in a survey once where they showed me a trailer (on a little portible TV) and then asked me a bunch of questions about whether I would see the film based on the trailer, if I would tell a friend about the trailer, etc. It was The Jerky Boys Movie. Then for round two they simply pitched me a movie. They described the plot and then asked me more questions. I can't remember what that film was.

Why So Blu?
06-21-12, 12:31 PM
I missed out on one back in November. It was an "UNTITLED ACTION BLOCKBUSTER" or something similar. No one knew what it was, but then this Maybach pulled up and Joel Silver walked out, so everyone thought it was either Sherlock Holmes 2 or that one with Stallone and Walter Hill film. Too many people showed up that I didn't even make it in to the actual screening. Never did find out what film it was.

superdeluxe
06-21-12, 12:39 PM
My buddy and me were in line for a movie near the University of Washington Campus, we were there to watch something I forgot, but were given passes for a special screening, other than that there were no details.

We showed up, to find out this was a test screening for Jackie Brown, Quinten Tarantino opened the screening and had some discussion after the screening.

It was a blast. The screening was about 6 months before the movie was suppose to come out I believe.

Dan
06-21-12, 01:11 PM
Not quite the same thing, but I attended a screening for TV show pilots.

This was a couple years ago. 2009 or 2010. So we show up at this hotel, and get shuffled into a conference room. They pull out a TV and an Xbox and tell us we're going to watch two pilots then talk about them.

The pilots were filmed no later than 2001, they were that old. One was definitely from the early 90's. You could tell by the hair cuts, jokes, music, etc. They played a couple commercials between them so it was more "realistic viewing."
Turns out, this company bought the rights to these shitty pilots that never got picked up. They use them to get people to show up, and the main focus is to show them the commercials. I know this because, after we watched everything, there was little to no discussion about the shows (maybe "did you like it?" and "would you recommend it?" that was it.) Instead, they handed us a questionnaire with a bunch of pictures of different branded products in specific product categories. We were told to put a check mark beside the ones were were most likely to buy.

So, I wasted about 3 hours of my day, just so I could tell some asshole which toilet paper I prefer.

lopper
06-21-12, 02:12 PM
We saw Thor early last year. First audience and all that. It was fun.

Matthew Chmiel
06-21-12, 02:21 PM
Couples Retreat and The Wolfman.

Never again.

devilshalo
06-21-12, 02:34 PM
I remember this for Gremlins. It just said to show up for a special sneak preview and it happened to play.

rw2516
06-21-12, 02:52 PM
There used to be mystery sneak previews at midnight in the theaters. You paid to see the last showing of the regular feature and could stay to see the sneak preview for free. Saw two, Capricorn One and Beyond The Poseidon Adventure.
This one was kinda of a mystery. In high school a radio station was giving free tickets to sneak preview of Blazing Saddles. It was still a mystery because nobody had heard of it or knew what it was. Talk about a suprise!

RobLutter
06-21-12, 04:02 PM
I was at the free Alamo Drafthouse screening in April of 2009 for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that touted "10 minutes of new footage from 'Star Trek' (2009)", which was coming out 5 weeks later. Similar precautions with any other sneak... no cell phones, etc...

5 minutes or so into the film, the film stops & burns, lights up... Leonard Nimoy walks in with Robert Orci, Damon Lindelof and Alex Kurtzman along with a film box and asks if we'd like to watch the new Star Trek instead, as the Austrailian premiere was happening the next day, and they wanted it to premiere in the USA first. Because we were there to see a showing of a 30-year-old picture, they wanted to show it to real fans first.

So I got to see Star Trek (2009)... 5 weeks early ... with Spock. Oh and there was free popcorn, it was marvelous.

My girlfriend was out of town and is a bigger Trek fan than even I... she still cries till this day.

I've gone to many other sneaks before, but that one takes the cake.

http://img.trekmovie.com/images/st09/nimoyaustin2.jpg

godzilla rules
06-21-12, 05:35 PM
I saw Mission: Impossible 2 when it was still in an unfinished version with Tom Cruise and John Woo in attendance.

Alan Smithee
06-22-12, 12:53 AM
I worked 10 years in the theater business and never heard of any screenings like this in my area. I saw a few movies get screened a couple months in advance, but they weren't really big ones and the passes said what movie they were for. The most interesting advance screening was "Road Trip" which was a print with different music in some places than the final version and no end credits- the rest of the movie was exactly the same as the final version though (I wanted to tell the distributor how I didn't like the way the story was told in flashback.)

I went to that stupid TV pilot thing too- they gave away a few good prizes but I didn't win any of them. We had to watch the stupid shows on small screens, then all the questionaires were about consumer products and not the shows. No questions about TV viewing habits either- I was really hoping I'd get to tell someone in the industry why I hadn't watched TV in years. Funny thing was a few days later someone called and asked me if I wanted to see the "Dads" pilot (with C. Thomas Howell) become a regular series.

filmerp
06-22-12, 02:00 AM
I took a Film Studies class taught by Leonard Maltin while at USC. Easiest class ever, but also very exciting. Every week we'd screen a film that had yet to be released but weren't told what until we were in class, and there was always a guest from the film, frequently the director, producer, or star for Q&A.

Most memorable: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Joel Silver, RDJr, and John Ottman. (I asked Silver to discuss the marketing process as I thought the trailers did the film a disservice. He responded I didn't know what I was "fucking talking about")

Least memorable: Saraha with Breck Eisner

Rypro 525
06-22-12, 02:28 AM
Most memorable: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Joel Silver, RDJr, and John Ottman. (I asked Silver to discuss the marketing process as I thought the trailers did the film a disservice. He responded I didn't know what I was "fucking talking about")



if only Silver listened to you, as the movie tanked and only played in art theaters.

Lastdaysofrain
06-22-12, 07:03 AM
I saw a screening of "Remember the Titans" with Jerry Bruckheimer attending in full Miami Vice gear. I did get to tell him that I thought the movie was sappy nonsense.

TomOpus
06-22-12, 08:47 AM
Went to a sneak about 6 months before it opened. Filled out questionaires before and after the movie.

Thought it was going to be a Kevin Smith movie. Turned out to be "Jersey Girl."

:(

Obi-Wan Jabroni
06-22-12, 10:11 AM
I've never been to a screening where we were not told what we were going to see before hand, but I have been to 3 screenings where stars of the movie were present, all at Comic Con in San Diego.

1. Jay and Slient Bob Strike Back - Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes were in the theater. This was at least a month before it came out, and the film was completed but there were no end credits. This was the absolute best audience to see this movie with as all the in-jokes were well recieved. (As opposed to when I saw it again in a regular theater, and many lines flew over the heads of most of the audience).

2. The Crow: Salvation - Star Eric Mabius and the director were present in the theater. I can only imagine that this screening was very uncomforable for them, as the audience laughed throughout at scenes that were clearly not intended to be funny. Also, pretty sure Eric Mabius knew it sucked already, as he seemed very uncomfortable (almost like he was about to cry) when he spoke before the movie and said "I really hope that you like it"

3. G-Men From Hell - Star Kari Wuhrer was present. Terrible movie. But I got to meet Kari after the screening, which was worth it for me, as I had been in love with her since Remote Control.

Michael Corvin
06-22-12, 10:16 AM
Went to a sneak about 6 months before it opened. Filled out questionaires before and after the movie.

Thought it was going to be a Kevin Smith movie. Turned out to be "Jersey Girl."

:(

So did you see the longer cut then? The version where all the J.Lo stuff was still left in?

TomOpus
06-22-12, 11:37 AM
So did you see the longer cut then? The version where all the J.Lo stuff was still left in? I never saw the theatrical release so can't say what changed but seemed like a lot of JLo until... that part.

One interesting thing happened at the screening. After we turned in the pre-screening questionaire, a few of us were pulled out of line as the others were let in. We were told that on the question about what interested us in seeing the movie, we all put down something to the effect that Kevin Smith directed it. They wouldn't give details but we concluded they didn't want a "fanboy" to skew the test scores too low since this was more "mainstream" that his other movies. They eventually let us in but we were not the ones selected to meet privately with the filmmakers.

Lastdaysofrain
06-22-12, 12:52 PM
3. G-Men From Hell - Star Kari Wuher was present. Terrible movie. But I got to meet Kari after the screening, which was worth it for me, as I had been in love with her since Remote Control.

I actually really liked this movie and would love have to have seen it in a theater (seeing Kari Wuher in person goes without saying). It was based on a Mike Allred comic strip, and I thought it pretty accurately captured the comic.

shumway
06-22-12, 11:39 PM
I was at the free Alamo Drafthouse screening in April of 2009 for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that touted "10 minutes of new footage from 'Star Trek' (2009)", which was coming out 5 weeks later. Similar precautions with any other sneak... no cell phones, etc...

5 minutes or so into the film, the film stops & burns, lights up... Leonard Nimoy walks in with Robert Orci, Damon Lindelof and Alex Kurtzman along with a film box and asks if we'd like to watch the new Star Trek instead, as the Austrailian premiere was happening the next day, and they wanted it to premiere in the USA first. Because we were there to see a showing of a 30-year-old picture, they wanted to show it to real fans first.

So I got to see Star Trek (2009)... 5 weeks early ... with Spock. Oh and there was free popcorn, it was marvelous.

My girlfriend was out of town and is a bigger Trek fan than even I... she still cries till this day.

I've gone to many other sneaks before, but that one takes the cake.

http://img.trekmovie.com/images/st09/nimoyaustin2.jpgMy brother was at that screening too. He had a blast and wrote one of the reviews that went up on AICN.

JCWBobC
06-22-12, 11:50 PM
My friends & I saw a screening of Pulp Fiction and afterwards they asked a bunch of us to stay for a Q&A about the movie. They recorded the Q&A on a portable tape recorder and when we were leaving we saw Tarantino in the lobby.

dhmac
06-23-12, 02:08 PM
Went to a sneak about 6 months before it opened. Filled out questionaires before and after the movie.

Thought it was going to be a Kevin Smith movie. Turned out to be "Jersey Girl."

:(
But "Jersey Girl" is a Kevin Smith movie... it's just a Kevin Smith movie that even Kevin Smith fans don't like.

Mondo Kane
06-25-12, 02:35 AM
Closest I've ever gotten to one was the Shaft remake (Recieved a flyer for it at Tower Records--R.I.P) but the showing was only just a few weeks before the wide release anyway.

matrixrok9
06-25-12, 03:47 AM
I worked at a movie theater where studios did a lot of test screenings. I didn't see them but some interesting stuff.

- Collateral - Tom Cruise and Michael Mann watched the movie. Everyone was saying how nice Tom Cruise was. They left before the movie ended.

- The Island - Bay brought his own subwoofer because he thought the theater's sub wouldn't do the movie justice.

- The Dreamworks CG fish movie - I was taking tickets when a guy handed me a pass and he looked familiar. Then I finally realized so I asked him "You're Hans Zimmer right?" Him and his wife were shocked. I shook his hand and let them in.

- S.W.A.T. - Only test screening I saw. The director was nervously walking back and forth in the back of the theater towards the end of the movie.

ben12
06-25-12, 01:02 PM
Not the same thing, but I got to go to free screenings of Austin Powers and There's Something About Mary before they came out. I knew nothing about the movies going on, so I had almost no expectations. They were both fantastic experiences. I almost peed from laughing during both movies' opening scenes.

bluetoast
06-25-12, 01:05 PM
- S.W.A.T. - Only test screening I saw. The director was nervously walking back and forth in the back of the theater towards the end of the movie.

Just looked up the director. Clark Johnson?! Surprised he did that one.

Matthew Chmiel
06-25-12, 08:22 PM
- The Island - Bay brought his own subwoofer because he thought the theater's sub wouldn't do the movie justice.
:lol: I expect nothing less from Michael Bay.

Peter Billingsley was at my Couples Retreat screening and I seriously wanted to deck him in the back of the head halfway through the movie.

dsa_shea
06-26-12, 12:11 AM
Funny that Michael Bay thinks that having his sub will help his movies.

Decker
06-26-12, 12:59 AM
I saw several advance screenings back at UC Santa Barbara in the mid-80s. Most were crap (there was a huge line or Fletch Lives -- we all regretted waiting in it). One little, unknown film I went to with very little expectations I ended up really enjoying, but never thought it would later be regarded as a classic : The Princess Bride.

But if you want to talk about a real surprise screening, once in a film class I took on campus, we had a visitor from Disney Animation. This was the late-80s and those were dark days for Disney animated films -- I think the most recent ones released were The Rescuers Down Under and The Great Mouse Detective; neither did well or were well-reviewed and there was talk of the studio's animation department being in real jeopardy. He brought in a rough cut of just the musical numbers from his upcoming animated film, told us he thought this was the film to get Disney animation back on track and set up the context for each musical number (most scenes were still pencil sketches at this point). The movie was called "The Little Mermaid" and we were all really impressed, especially with the "Under The Sea" number. And I still remember the surprised gasp we all let out when at the end of "Kiss The Girl", the eels flipped the boat over just before the kiss. I looked over at this guy and he had a big grin on his face -- he knew he was sitting on a hit. Before he left, he told us that they were beginning to work on another film based on Beauty and the Beast and the audience clapped in approval.

trespoochies
06-26-12, 07:39 AM
Back in 2000, I ended up watching the very first cut of All the Pretty Horses, which clocked in at just under 4 hours. Billy Bob and Matt Damon were there. I could have used two hours back, but overall it was an pretty interesting experience. Also saw Pulp Fiction on the UT campus with Tarantino before he took it to Cannes. Most recent was an AICN screening of The Social Network, Q&A after had Aaron Sorkin, Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and Armie Hammer.