As I mentioned last month, we got tickets to see Monsters University before it was released.
There were plenty of disclaimers on the ticket – first come, first serve, so you might not get admitted; if you are admitted, no recording devices of any kind are allowed; we can use your likeness to promote our film; etc.
The movie was to start at 7:00. Not knowing what to expect, We arrived at the theater around 6:15. I was glad we got there that early, because the line was out the door and past the end of the building. We were probably the 200th in line, which wasn’t really moving. And people were getting in line behind us too – it kept growing.
I was expecting a line (all those disclaimers about first-come first-served) and there was a line, so we got in it. But I just wanted to check that it was the right line. I glanced around and, sure enough, the people in front of us had the same Monsters University tickets that we did.
But there were more high school- and college-age kids than elementary school-age kids, which was not what I expected for this movie.
And then, after we had been standing in line for about 10 minutes, people dressed as zombies started walking up and down the line. Not a bunch – just a few. I thought that was really weird. Why would these people be doing that at a kids’ movie? I have never seen, nor do I want to see, any movies involving zombies. But I expect they could look depressed or sullen – these people just looked bored. And that made me think they were hired to be there.
Then someone a few families back mentioned “World War Z” and that pushed my suspiciousness level over the threshold. I told the kids to stay in line and I walked up to the front of the line, where there were some theater employees.
“What’s this line for?” I asked them.
“World War Z”
“Where’s the line for Monsters University?”
“Oh, that’s inside.”
I headed back to the kids, told them to follow me, and loudly announced that the line for Monsters was inside, so that other families wouldn’t be left high and dry by the unhelpful movie theater. We went inside, and the lady behind me in line and I exchange gripes about how the lines were handled: “they could at least have had some signs” and “those employees were just standing there doing nothing”. The employees didn’t need to tell everyone walking by what the arrangement was, but it would have helped a lot if they called out “World War Z here, Monsters University inside” every couple of minutes.
To be fair, I will say that the theater had signs on their doors saying which screenings were to use which doors. But the signs were not large (printed on a normal 8.5×11 sheet of paper) and most people saw the line and got in it without going up to the doors. Half the people never even saw the doors because where they parked was closer to the end of the line than to the doors, so they got in line without going near the theater entrance. Poor planning, poor logistics, and employees that lacked initiative.
In the Door
Once we got in the right line, we were behind only about a dozen families, and the Monsters line was moving faster than the World War Z line, so I settled down a bit. But I didn’t have my phone, so I had no idea what time it was, so I had no idea how close the movie was to starting. Strike two against the theater was that they had no clocks anywhere. Not on the walls, no current time display on the board that displays all the movie times. But we made it with plenty of time.
We got our tickets, 3D glasses, and headed for theater 9.
Before we got there, a lady stopped us and we had to get our photo taken in front of a MU backdrop. I assume it was for promotional reasons of some sort. They gave us a card with our ID# on it so we could go to some website and see/print our photo. I think I lost the card.
After the photo booth was the bouncer. He just asked a couple of questions, the main one being “Do you have any cell phones, cameras, or recording devices?” To which I answered “No”. I wasn’t carrying anything, so he didn’t have to search anything.
After the bouncer came the security guard. His job was mainly to wand people. I had to put my arms out while he checked for any metal. My car keys set off the wand. “What’s that?” he inquired, tapping my pocket with the wand. “My keys” “Okay, go ahead” and that was it. They didn’t ask my kids any questions or wand them, which has its pros and cons from security and a customer relations perspectives.
In the Theater
We got inside and the theater was only about a quarter full. Much of the middle was empty, so I directed my kids there. As we got closer, I saw why – the middle section, from about the 7th row through most of the way up was reserved for various groups. So we sat halfway up in the section on the far side.
The showing was sponsored by Radio Disney, so instead of the usual movie previews and such, they had a guy and assistant on a microphone, asking trivia questions and holding small contests. The prizes for winning were sticker packs. It held everyone’s attention well.
Then, after at about 15 minutes of that, the movie started. There were no movie previews, but there was a promotional spot for a certain TV station that promotes itself as being for families (or about families or something). Remember how in my I said there was nothing objectionable to worry about in the movie? Here is where I qualify that. The movie itself was fine – the worst part was having to endure the promos for sitcoms that I will not have my kids watch.
The movie started, we watched it, and we stayed through the credits because there is a bit after the credits. The bit was only about 15 seconds long, and it wasn’t worth sitting through all those credits. I think Pixar takes at least twice as many people to make a movie and most live-action films do.
If you do go to a screening: get there slightly early, take seriously their warnings about recording devices, and check what the line is before you stand in it.
The desert creatures will meet with the wolves,
The hairy goat also will cry to its kind;
Yes, the night monster will settle there
And will find herself a resting place.