I am sure you have always wanted to attend an advance movie screening! I know I really wanted to! Honestly, though I didn’t know how until I decided to try my luck calling into a radio station giving away free tickets to Finding Dory! Now I didn’t know at the time that these weren’t regular tickets, but I called none the less and somehow I won! As it turns out, I was given 4 passes to see Finding Dory 5 days before the movie was released to the general public!
Now that I have actually been to one of these advanced screenings, I wanted to share with you what these screenings are like. Honestly, I was surprised by a few things and not so surprised by others. Keep in mind, this is primarily based on my experience even though I also did some research. Your experience could be different! Let me know what you think or about your own experience below!
I’m pretty sure the fact that the movie theater was packed is not a surprise to anyone. However, I was surprised by how quickly the theater filled up. We arrived about 30 minutes early, which I would not recommend to you if you are attending an advanced screening. Every decent seat was taken! There were a few seats in the first two rows that were available, and thankfully I was able to grab some middle seats in the second row. However, others were not so lucky. So be sure to arrive very early! At the screening I attended, security told me people were arriving 2 hours before the screening was scheduled to take place. So when I say get there early, I don’t mind the 30 minutes I arrived early.
- Reserved Seating for Press
The first thing I noticed when I entered the theater was that there were “Reserved” signs on about 7 rows in the theater. I later learned this reserved seating section were for the press or critics, and their families. I wish I had mentioned that I was reviewing the movie on my blog, but I would have been stressed out the entire time worrying that someone was going to kick us out of our seats. Keep in mind, these reserved rows, were the 7 best rows in the theater! This makes sense of course, but it still made me frustrated that I arrived before others and we had worse seats.
This was something I didn’t expect completely. Now I figured they would tell everyone to turn their electronics off, and to flash a message on the movie screen telling everyone to not record the film. However, I was not expecting them to take my electronics at the entrance and to put them in a brown paper bag. They gave me a ticket that matched the number on the bag, but I still felt very strange without my phone. After we turned in our electronic devices, our bags were searched and they used metal detector wands to make sure we weren’t hiding anything. There were also guards walking up and down the side aisles at various intervals throughout the movie. So if none of the security stuff sounds appealing, then an advanced screening may not be for you.
Now on one hand, this means that a violent event is less likely to happen due to the increased security. But it also means, that you risk your items being lost or stolen. It also takes more time for you to get into the movie which requires you to arrive even earlier.
- No Previews
One of my favorite things about going to the movie theater is to see the previews before the movie actually starts. Unfortunately, they do not show previews during an advanced screening. I think this is because, they are just trying to get you to focus on the featured film, and want you in and out of the theater as quickly as possible. This also could avoid potential leaks of upcoming trailers and leads to a few less spoilers.
The film I was able to see was shown in 3D and in Imax. I had never been to an Imax movie before so I thought it was pretty cool. However, I’m not a fan of 3D movies because I wear glasses most of the time. So keep this in mind if you attend an advanced screening. This is also another reason to arrive very early, as from where we were seated, many parts of the movie were blurry due to the 3D affect. I also couldn’t see the entire screen at all times since it kind of wrapped around us.
- Don’t Keep Tickets
Now this is not going to be an issue for you, unless you are like me and enjoy keeping your movie tickets. However, we were not allowed to keep our tickets. My mother-in-law did take a picture of our tickets since we took my husband’s younger siblings to the film with us. So, thankfully we now have a picture of these. Honestly, the tickets weren’t even regular tickets, they were printed on cardstock paper and looked like a one page black and white brochure. So they were pretty cool.
I didn’t know this coming into the theater or I definitely would have arrived much earlier. However, right before the movie started I noticed several people that couldn’t find seats anywhere. I wasn’t sure what they ended up doing, but guessed they must have taken some reserved seats or something like that. However, I did some research after attending this screening and learned that advanced screenings are often overbooked to ensure a full theater. Unfortunately, I think several people attending this particular screening weren’t able to stay due to no available seating.
- Expect to Travel
When I won the tickets to see Finding Dory, I thought they would be to a specific theater brand such as Regal, Carmike, or AMC. I didn’t realize that we would have to drive about an hour to get to a specific theater in a different state. (Keep in mind I live in a very large metro area so the distance was only about 20 miles, but with traffic it was definitely over an hour one-way of travel time)
I mean we do have to keep in mind the perks of attending an advanced screening! Watching the movie did not cost us a penny. Of course, we purchased some refreshments and we did have to travel to get there, so we did spend a bit of money. However, watching the movie itself was free which was pretty cool, and allowed us to see a movie that we would otherwise would have had to wait to rent.
I’m hoping this post gives you some insight into what you can expect to experience if you ever attend an advanced screening. It was still a great experience and I would recommend attending if you are able! I just don’t think it’s for everyone, especially if you don’t like crowds or security.
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