Special Advance Screenings ,,, why?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Colton, Feb 25, 2005.

  1. Colton

    Colton Supporting Actor

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    I'm curious why studios have special advance screenings. My wife and I get free tickets to these screenings all the time and we always expect to give feedback or fill-out some comment cards about how we rate the movie, but nothing like that happens. We go and watch the movie and leave. Why do studios give these free screenings and expect nothing in return?

    - Colton
     
  2. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    To build word of mouth in the hopes of adding a couple of $$$ to that all important initial gross?

    Where do you get those free tickets? When I lived in NYC I got a grand total of 2 in a period of 5 years.

    --
    H
     
  3. Colton

    Colton Supporting Actor

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    We have a local employee that gets them by the bulk in the mail and she just hands them out. Usually the tickets come in a medium-sized envelope with 100+ tickets. Some are just flyers (which probably could be reproduced easily) and most are slick half-sheet tickets that look very nice (too bad they keep them when you enter the theater). Usually, she hands these tickets out six times a month. Life is good.

    - Colton
     
  4. stephen la

    stephen la Stunt Coordinator

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    colton..
    what city are you in..
    if its close to Los Angeles can you ask for a 2nd set of tickets for me next time?
    thanks
     
  5. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    Here in DC, I get E-Mails all the time for screenings. I don't end up going to too many, because my schedule doesn't line up, or it is being held at someplace I can't get to readily.

    Jason
     
  6. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    Jason,
    I live in Northern VA. I'd love to sign up [​IMG]

    Never been to a special screening.

    Paid for them all. Except a free Gremlins 2 screening by a radio station many years back.

    Take care,
    Chuck
     
  7. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I get plenty in Boston, too - there's usually one offered on Landmark's mailing list, and usually two or three to be found per week in the local alternarags.
     
  8. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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  9. Don Solosan

    Don Solosan Supporting Actor

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    Ahh, but they do get something in return: they get to see how the audience reacts to the movie as it plays. They can learn a lot that they'll use to fine tune the editing.

    And, in my experience, they usually choose a handful of people to talk about the movie in more detail.

    As others have mentioned, there's the word of mouth benefit as well.
     
  10. Kevin Hewell

    Kevin Hewell Cinematographer

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    I have a friend who used to work at a local TV station and he used to get these advanced screening tickets all the time. I saw a ton of free movies with him back then. Yes, I think it's to help build word of mouth for the opening weekend.
     
  11. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    But a lot of these screenings take place way too close to release date for that to be a factor. A lot of them are only a few days ahead of time - no way they're going to change anything.

    I think they're just attempts to create a little buzz. The people who go feel special so they tell their friends about it. Even if they don't like the movies, they're putting the titles out there for others to hear. That's a small price for the smattering of paid admissions they'd lose...
     
  12. Don Solosan

    Don Solosan Supporting Actor

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    Forgot, you're not seeing the cobbled-together prints with the temp tracks and unfinished effects. The advance screenings around here seem to be split between "testing" and building word of mouth and one of the reasons that I stopped going (other than I'm over the 35 year age limit) is that I wasn't really interested in watching works in progress. Folks in other parts of the country are only going to get the building word of mouth screenings.
     
  13. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Yeah, those aren't the test screenings the original post addressed. You'll note he mentioned a lack of studio follow-up to gauge opinions - wouldn't test screenings with "cobbled-together prints" use more formal surveys like cards to fill out at the end?
     
  14. David Ren

    David Ren Stunt Coordinator

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    Screenings that take place more than a month before release are test screenings and you will fill out survey cards afterwards.

    Screenings that take place less than a month before release are press screenings. They are holding the screening for a dozen or so critics and other media, and they use regular people to fill up the rest of the theater.

    David
     
  15. Sylvia*ST

    Sylvia*ST Stunt Coordinator

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    Studios do test screenings for a number of reasons. As mentioned above, they do them for:

    Research--usually involves a questionnaire and/or focus group afterwards and is done for many reasons--scenes and even characters can be deleted or expanded based on response; they want to know who the film appeals to and how to market it. Prints can be as rough as no opticals (dissolves, etc.) to even some storyboarded special effects scenes, or as good as full opticals, music and effects. Audiences are personally recruited based on the demographics a studio chooses.

    Press--As stated, to fill the theatre (especially for comedies) so the dozen or so press reviewers can watch the film with a "real" audience.

    Sneak Previews--this tickets are mailed in bulk, emailed, and advertised in the newspapers. Used to be, you saw the regular feature, then the "sneak," but now it's usually just the sneak but you can often stay for the regular feature.

    Trailer Tests--regularly scheduled film, with questionnaires handed out at end to register if you watched, and liked a trailer you saw before the movie.

    Opening Weekend Tests--done to test whether the movie marketing actually attracted the target audience, and if it didn't, the studios will often adjust the ads for the next weekend to either more closely target the audience they wanted or to capitalize on an unexpected audience segment they didn't know would come to and/or like the film.

    Tests are done frequently in the Los Angeles and New York areas, which are really over-saturated, but it's hard for all concerned to go to another part of the country to get a truer research result.
     
  16. andrew markworthy

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    Simple - a lot of people don't read movies reviews in newspapers or watch reviews on the TV, or if they do, they don't necessarily trust them. However, if people they know say a movie is good, then they'll go to see it. Building up word of mouth is thus a good thing. And bear in mind that people who see stuff at free screenings will be more kindly disposed to the studios because they haven't had to pay.
     
  17. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    There are some exceptions.

    I saw a test screening of the new Bruce Willis film Hostage on February 15. It opens March 11. Cards were filled out and I was part of the focus group afterwards. No press or critics. Just normal moviegoers. The audience loved the film by the way. It appeared to be finished, with opening and closing credits, music and special effects. Perhaps they were looking for some last minute fine tuning.
     
  18. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    My wife and I attend screenings frequently. In Dallas (as Jason suggests in Boston) you get notifications via e-mail if you sign up with Landmark (and some other chains) for information. KERA (our NPR station) membership gets you tickets to one advance screening a month and finally there are frequent ads for free screenings in our alternative, ‘free’ weekly, the Dallas Observer.

    All of these are advance screenings for critics (as has already been mentioned) and the ‘free’ tickets merely fill out the theater.
     
  19. Colton

    Colton Supporting Actor

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    Woo hoo! Just got two free screening passes:

    The Ring Two : March 15, 2005
    Ice Princess : March 10, 2005

    Looking forwards to "The Ring Two", but "Ice Princess" might be alittle too kiddy for my taste.

    - Colton
     

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