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The Evolution of Screenings

Since the dawn of civilization entertainment has been a luxury that has enslaved humanity. From cave paintings to bear fights and Shakespearean plays to modern cinema, the best sources of entertainment have always been ones that can be shared with friends. Or better yet come at no cost whatsoever. From winning a pass to getting a ticket and finding the perfect seat, to reliving the movie and debating its minutiae with friends, attending a movie screening has fast become the hottest free ticket in town.

Preview movie screenings have become an increasingly popular trend over the past few years. They have morphed into a phenomenon that brings friends together for a chance to see of the latest blockbuster or indie film.  Those lucky enough to obtain tickets earn bragging rights over everybody else who must wait to see the movie when it hits theatres.

To become one of these lucky few there are a few guidelines to which one must strictly adhere. Simply winning passes isn’t enough to guarantee entry into any movie and budgeting time to stand in line depends on the time of year.  From January to March queuing an hour before the screening time will secure a good seat for all but the biggest blockbusters.  In addition to pre-summer blockbusters spring often brings a full slate of highly anticipated movies that were delayed or “pushed back” by the studios. This combination of brain candy and potentially great performances translates into an average ninety minute wait time for regular screeners.

The months of  June to September bring the anticipation of the big summer hits like the newest Avenger movie or the latest in the Hunger Games franchise. The bigger the hype the crazier the lines so  prepare for a close to two hour wait before major screenings to ensure a ticket . Expendables 2 demonstrated this last year, when tickets were few and “latecomers” who arrived at 6:15 p.m. were denied entry. However when Oscar season kicks off in September, showing up two hours early may secure a ticket but does not guarantee you the first spot in line.

Once a pass won on Twitter or Facebook has been transformed into tickets to an advanced screening basic movie theatre etiquette comes into play. Saving a seat or two for friends who are stuck at the office is one thing but saving ten seats for your entire entourage can get people riled up. This is doubly true when stars in attendance at red carpet screenings and prime seats are at a premium.

Every screening is a different story but it is the experiences and the entertainment that come from them that make them more than just a fad. Bars and restaurants become swarmed with people after a screening as filmgoers indulge in some grub and beer and debate a film’s highlights and lowlights. Eventually the never ceasing flow of blockbusters, Oscar-bait, and indie darlings lead veteran screeners to feel misplaced when they find themselves at home on a Wednesday or Thursday night instead of at the cinema. The Age of Screeners is upon us and the question remains how much larger can this already booming phenomenon grow.