Movie Theater Mishaps: UK Audiences Demand Refunds for Lack of Dialogue in ‘The Artist’, Ads Ruin ‘Hugo’ Screening in NYC
Posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2012 by Angie Han
Given that Michel Hazanavicius‘ The Artist and Martin Scorsese‘s Hugo are both about the joys of filmmaking and film-watching, it’s a little ironic that incidents at recent screenings of the two pictures seem to highlight some of the ways that the modern moviegoing experience can go terribly wrong.
In the UK, customers demanded refunds upon realizing that The Artist, a tribute to silent films, was itself a silent film. Meanwhile, one unlucky New York audience had the ending of Hugo ruined by advertisements that suddenly began playing over the movie. Read more after the jump.
The Daily Telegraph (via THR) reports that Odeon Cinemas, the UK’s largest theater chain, issued refunds to moviegoers in Liverpool after several complained about The Artist‘s lack of sound and smaller-than-usual screen. (Hazanavicius had purposely reduced the screen size to better reflect the experience of watching movies during the silent era.) Odeon initially denied the story, but eventually ‘fessed up. “Odeon Liverpool One can confirm it has issued a small number of refunds to guests who were unaware that The Artist was a silent film,” said a spokesperson, claiming that it is company policy to offer refunds to guests within the first ten minutes of any movie.
In a way, it seems fitting that a movie about a silent film star whose career is destroyed by the increasing demand for talkies would be rejected by viewers for being a silent movie instead of a talking picture. For his part, Hazanavicius called the walkouts “hilarious, actually” and remarked, “If I could give any advice to people it would be that they should ask for their money back whenever they see a film they don’t expect. If it’s not written on the poster ‘this is a bad movie’ and they think it’s a bad movie, ask for a refund!”
I’m assuming Hazanavicius is joking around. However, this isn’t the first time dissatisfied viewers have asked for their money back. Over the summer, one theater in Connecticut had to post signs encouraging customers to read up on Tree of Life before purchasing nonrefundable tickets for the film. And last fall, a woman took things even further by filing a lawsuit against FilmDistrict because she’d expected Drive to be more like The Fast and the Furious.
But of course, it’s not always the audience’s fault when the theater experience falls far short of expectations. A tipster recently sent in a video recording to Gothamist (via The Verge) of one uniquely awful screening of Hugo: After the film broke down twice in the course of the film, a projection error had commercials playing over the climactic ending.
“It’s quite the mashup,” they wrote. “Considering the movie is a tribute to film and film preservation, it was especially hysterical and at the same time a total travesty.” The tipster and other audience members were given refunds and free passes on their way out, but not everyone stuck around long enough to reach the end: “[A]fter going through all that to get to the end of the movie and to have that happen was surreal.”
Check out the video, titled “Dear Mr Scorsese, This is what they did to your movie last night” below: