Neil and I love movies. A lot. From well-loved classics to new indie films, we’ll see almost anything if it has a good story. So when I introduced Neil to the art of the advanced movie screening, he was all in. Over the years, we’ve gotten to see tons of great films. Some are duds and some go one to be award-winners, but we get to say “we saw it first.” For movie fans, it is a great way to get your fix for free – especially during Oscar season. We get a lot of questions about our movie screening experiences. Here are a few of the answers along with some tips for those considering joining us on this fabulous movie adventure.
1. What is an advanced movie screening?
To help boost box office sales, movie production people try to drum up excitement for upcoming theatrical releases through the Word of Mouth tactic (or WOM as we like to say in the ad business). One of the best ways to do that is to let people see a movie a few weeks before its wide release so they can go tell their friends and family and co-workers to see it. And what better way to do that than give away passes for free?
2. How do I get passes?
Every day or so, Neil and I receive emails from an assortment of websites about screenings in our area (our favorite is Gofobo). Once you receive the email, you have to make a split-second decision of whether or not you want to see the film in question. If you wait too long to click through to the reservation form, all the passes could be gone and you’ll be out of luck.
Pro Tip: Click through immediately to reserve your spots. The screening hosts always give out more passes than can fit in the theater in case anyone backs out. And sometimes we do when we realize we had a dinner planned or have a church event or just don’t feel like seeing Zoolander 2 anymore (unfortunately, we did see it and it was terrible, but free).
3. When do I need to get there?
The screening pass always lists a movie start time. Do yourself a favor and get to the screening location 1.5-2 hours earlier. I am not kidding. There will always be people who are WAY more into movies than you who camp out in line with folding chairs and blankets and then let their grandma and their sixteen cousins cut in line with them. Plus, the movie people purposefully give out more passes than there is room for in the theater to ensure a full house, so it is possible to wait in line and then lose out on a ticket. So plan to get there early. And maybe grab some popcorn for some pre-film people watching.
Pro Tip: Pack food. No one wants to eat concession stand food for dinner. Since we get to screenings early we often don’t have time to eat dinner. So Neil and I pack a meal to eat while we’re in line. For some reason, the theater people don’t really care if you bring in full meals. I guess they figure that a person has got to eat.
4. Is it really free?
Yes. 100 percent. These screenings are put on either by the production company, the production company’s marketing company, or a local radio station or film club. They don’t want your money, they just want to fill seats with movie-loving butts who will tell other people to spend their money on the film later. Sometimes there could be critics in your screening, which makes for a fun game of I Spy.
Pro Tip: Prepare to sit through the occasional trivia game or “celebrity sighting.” With trivia, you can win a swag bag if you can run to the front of the theater before the other movie nerds. As for celebrities, at a screening for the first “Hunger Games,” they tried to pass off one of the Games designers as a “major role.” Meh. Regardless, if you’re willing to have fun during the pre-show shenanigans, then you’ll do just that.
5. Can I go with y’all?
Yes! You are more than welcome to attend a movie screening with the Robinfuns. In fact, we’d love to have you! It just takes a little bit of coordination. They only give screening passes out in ones and twos. So both Neil and I must request passes in order to get plus-ones. Make sense? So if there’s a movie you’re interested, let us know. Or if you’re up for whatever movie we can get three/four passes to, let us know. We’ll keep an eye out and snag us some seats if we can. Just be ready and willing for a last-minute invite and a night of advanced movie fun.