LOTR and audience reaction

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by James David Walley, Dec 22, 2001.

  1. James David Walley

    James David Walley Stunt Coordinator

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    I just got back from a late-night showing at Renton, Washington, and want to know if my experience there was significant or an aberration.
    The theater was about half-full. Mostly teenagers, a few families with older children, a handful of adults.
    When the film started out, all were quiet except for about three teenagers nearby, who started whispering drug jokes to each other every time a character was smoking a pipe. A bit annoying, but about what I could expect from audiences.
    Sometime just around Hugo Weaving's first appearance, however, a group of teenagers on the left side of the auditorium must have decided they hated the film, since they started heckling in loud voices. In particular, when virtually any non-combat "serious" or "dramatic" moment happened, they would make jokes and burst out laughing as loudly as possible.
    Initially, people sitting around them tried whispering at them to be quiet. As the film (and their heckling) went on, though, other people on that side of the auditorium started joining in the laughter. Then some on the right side (including the "drug humor" group mentioned above) started in as well. Then more people in the middle. By the time we got to the final scene, about half the audience was laughing at all the serious parts (particularly when Samwise nearly drowns), to the point that I could barely hear what was going on, and certainly couldn't concentrate on it. As the final credits started, there was even more laughter, along with mocking shouts of "We wuz robbed!" (whether this had to do with a low opinion of the whole film, or the fact that it didn't have a "proper ending," I couldn't tell). The audience emptied quickly -- within a minute, I was the only one sitting there watching the credits.
    Has anyone else seen this happen? Is it that this film only appeals to Tolkien fans/fantasy fans/adults, and that the only things teenagers want (and will accept) in a movie are lots of explosions and lots of wisecracks? Is it that I had the misfortune of seeing it with an audience of late-night yahoos? Or is it a sign that people are thoroughly conditioned, when they get a "laugh track," to join in regardless of what may really be happening?
    Please note that I'm not asking what your own opinion of LOTR is, merely what the audience reaction was where you saw it. If the reactions I saw were representative of other screenings, I wouldn't be surprised to see LOTR have a strong opening week, but then drop off the face of the earth in record time.
     
  2. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    IMO it sounds as though your experience may be an isolated one. I doubt many audiences are acting like that around the world...then again???
    My showing, opening day- first show, was well behaved throughout. Mostly adults, no kids, very few teenagers.
     
  3. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Producer

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    I've taken the 'POLLS' bit out of the thread title due to the fact I feel there could be decent conversation here about such an issue. If it's truly a Poll with the want for single word or sentance answers, then yes it belongs in the Polls area. From you're lengthy post though, James, I don't get that impression.

    Having seen it twice now, I must say I've been graced with strong audiences. First viewing was on Wednesday morning at London's biggest non-Imax screen. Fairly full house, the film drew a round of applause both at the start and finish, and a good number sat until the final credit went up.

    Thursday's viewing at a local multiplex drew surprisingly great results. At a 4pm showing, the audience was fairly small, but mixed, people of all ages there which was great to see. I was amazed not to hear a single peep, mobile phone ring or scrunching of cheap cinema food packets. A restless audience (which I usualy get when I visit this multiplex) it was not, and again a good number remained until the final credit went up.

    I've not seen a film with a decent sized audience that's gained so much attention and silence from those watching it in a long time. I remember seeing Cast Away at this same multiplex, a restless audience who couldnt bring themselves to sit still and quiet for a film with so little dialogue.

    No, from my experience so far, Fellowship of the Ring has captivated all those watching it, right through until the lights go up!

    I'm seeing it again this afternoon, at a small little art house/indie cinema on Baker Street. Nothing great in terms of presentation, but a nice little auditorium (much like a home theatre) and a place likely to gain a respectful audience.

    Dan (UK)
     
  4. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    We don't get LOTR until Dec26th. I like going to movies during the day when its near empty but since it's holidays it'll be crowded, let me just say if I have people doing this in the showing i'm at they better hope that I don't have any sharp implements or a loose chair or two. I've been looking forward to this for so long and to have this film ruined by some teenage halfwits who have nothing better to than waste an afternoon at the cinema being loud and obnoxious to people who actually paid to see a serious movie. Come on a bit of respect please. It's not much to ask.
     
  5. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

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    My audience was probably about the best movie audience I've ever been with. I went Friday morning and the audience was probably 98% adult with 2% young children. I saw no teenagers. The audience was pretty much silent for the whole movie, except at the very end after an intense battle. One guy let out a "YEAH!" and the rest of the us chuckled along. I wish all my movie going experiences could be so nice.
     
  6. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    I saw it with a semi-full, very mixed crowd, and everyone was respectful with three exceptions: three separate cell phones went off. I don't go to the theaters very often, so this was the first time I've heard cell phones during a movie, and it was fairly annoying. Two of them were fairly distant from me, so I don't know how the people near it reacted, but the closest one was hissed down by those sitting in the immediate vicinity. In all three cases, I got the impression the offenders merely forgot to turn off their phones before entering the theater, as I didn't hear anyone carrying on a conversation. I think they turned them off as quickly as they could.

    Right near the end of the film, two ladies entered the theater from the back (it's one of those theaters with upstairs exits near the top) carrying on a conversation. They stopped talking and left immediately upon seeing the film was still running. I honestly think they had tickets to the subsequent showing and thought the previous showing had concluded. No big deal.

    No applause at the end, and I left too soon to gauge the audience's reaction. I personally had a lukewarm reaction, so I left right as the credits came up.
     
  7. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    I've seen it twice and both times the audience was well behaved. Very quiet and respectful. The first audience was a bit more enthusiastic during the film, laughing at the jokes and reacting to the action scenes appropriately. The second audience was quieter but much more chattery after the film ended (I was amused to see a lot of teenage girls who obviously hadn't read the book going completely crazy about it on the way out. "OhmygodohmygodOHMYGOD!!!" [​IMG])
     
  8. JasenP

    JasenP Screenwriter

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    I've found that seeing a "big" movie on opening weekend is best if you go at the right time.
    I have had VERY good luck with the first showing on Sundays. Fewer or no children than almost any other time. My friends and I make an event out of it by getting breakfast first and going to the 11:30 am showings.
    I am the first guy to "shoosh" people and then I yell for them to shut the F*** up and finally, get the Manager. [​IMG]
    Don't piss me off when I am trying to watch a movie, it can get real ugly real quickly.
     
  9. Richard Kim

    Richard Kim Producer

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    I finally got to watch FOTR last night. There were people who laughed at the "drug humor" sections, like when Bilbo and Gandalf are smoking, and one of them says "good weed" and when Merry and Pippin pick mushrooms.

    Also, people cheered and clapped when Aragorn decapitates that huge orc leader at the end.
     
  10. Derek Bang

    Derek Bang Stunt Coordinator

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    I saw the opening show in Indy downtown. Mixed audience (adults, teens, young children), all of whom were respectful. No phones, no talking, complete silence in all the right spots. Very pleased. Only saw one person make a potty break. I was worried because two guys behind me made comments throughout the trailers, but they piped down once the film started. No can of whoop-ass needed.
     
  11. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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  12. Kami

    Kami Screenwriter

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    My first two showings (avanced screening tuesday night, and another show on wednesday night) were both packed -- every single seat was full. There wasn't so much as a PEEP throughout the movie and maybe 3 people got up out of their seats in total. It was wonderful. On my third viewing (friday at 5pm) the theater was about half-full (kind of an odd time to see a movie) and the crowd was good overall but there was a few trouble makers. The young teens in front of me (maybe 13 or so) had to go to eachother "oh yeah man did you see that!! oh yeah!!!" and "IT'S AGENT SMITH!! HAHAHAHA" throughout the movie, the girl behind me had to give her little commentary every once in a while (I thanked her for it sarcastically at the end of the show. Another couple brought their 4 year old to the show. What a dumb idea... every once in a while the kid would yell out "dadda" and a couple times he ran up and down the stairs stomping as loud as he could. All of this boiled my blood to say the least, but I still managed to enjoy the movie.

    If anyone would have laughed or made a stupid comment during my favorite scene of the movie -- Frodo pulling Samwise out of the water, I would have lost it right there.
     
  13. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    Well, I went to a 4:15 matinee on Friday, and the theater was about half full. Reaction from some women I overheard was somewhat lukewarm. The younger men ages 13-30 were positive. But it seemed the crowd did not know about the movie being shot at one time and being filmed as one story. In fact, pretty much the entire audience said "what?" at the ending of the film. They didn't like the ending from what I could tell.

    That's how the crowd reacted just from what I picked up and overheard.
     
  14. Randal R.

    Randal R. Auditioning

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    Saw it twice. The first time the full house audience paid rapt attention and applauded at the end. The second showing was a half full matinee and they also were good except for a woman who brought a baby (why would you bring a baby to a three-hour movie!!!) and a cell phone that went off. Otherwise the audience in both films laughed at the right moments and I heard some sniffling during the final scene. The Lurtz decapitation also got the biggest reaction from both crowds.
     
  15. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    There was a groan when the ending credits came up as Frodo and Sam embark on the next phase of their journey.

    There were about 4 cell phones that went off during the film.

    A few snickers at the drug references, and I laughed mightily at the "There'll be no tossing of dwarves" line.
     
  16. Timothy Alexander

    Timothy Alexander Second Unit

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    At the showing I went to it was a packed crowd and everyone cheered at the appropriate parts and you could tell people were genuinely enjoying the flick...that is until the end credits popped up and you could just feel that everyone in the audience were thinking "WHAT THE F**K WAS THAT?"
    I really think they should sell the fact this movie is the first in a trilogy in the ads because I don't think alot people were aware of this(I did though, I read the books [​IMG]).
     
  17. Paul Jenkins

    Paul Jenkins Supporting Actor

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    Opening day matinee in Plano, 10:30am show, sold out. Most people were very attentive for the movie for awhile, but towards the end many people were shuffling, making noise, going to the bathroom (me included, man 3 hours is long [​IMG]) but no cell phones (thank goodness!)
    At the end, some clapping, not that much, but a few. A couple of fanboys behind us were really into it, the people in front of us was heard to remark how long it was.
    Overall, I think people enjoyed the movie and the experience, I think my B+ rating of the movie is probably shared by many who aren't really into the books or the hype surrounding it. Good solid entertainment that felt like 3 hours...
     
  18. Simon Massey

    Simon Massey Cinematographer
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    I saw the film in Bolton twice. The first time the theatre was full, as it was opening night, and the response was very positive. I went again on the Friday, and got the impression that a lot of people at this showing hadn't read the books - there were a lot of people surprised at the Bridge of Khazadum!! On both occasions though everyone seemed to like it - people around me who were walking out at the end were all saying how amazing it was.
     
  19. Aaron Schmitt

    Aaron Schmitt Stunt Coordinator

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    The crowd I saw it with was great (Weds night, 10:30pm showing). I groaned when I saw a couple bring in a baby, probably younger than 6 months, but luckily the kid probably slept through the whole show. The crowd reacted to a few of the jump scenes (the Bilbo one in Rivendell in particular) and cheered at the end of the battle at the end of the movie. The presentation over all was good too, except for a sound dropout with about 10 mins to go. I think it helped that I'm now living in a small town outside Seattle, so the crowds for a midweek late night showing aren't quite the same.

    Aaron
     
  20. Todd_Brown

    Todd_Brown Second Unit

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    My wife and I saw it last night at a pretty full multi-plex. The audience was a true mix of all ages and types. The movie held everyone's attention, and got a cheer when Aragorn chopped the head of the Orc at the end. Walking out, however, I heard a few people complaining about the "ending", wanting to know if they were supposed to fill in the blanks or what. I felt obliged to tell a couple that the tale was only a third of the way told. The studio really needs to get the word out better about it being a trilogy.
    Overall, a big enthusiastic [​IMG]
    Todd
     

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