By Ray Manukay
Today I saw Marvel’s The Avengers.
The movie is great and all… and I’ll write more about that later. (As well as, post an enthusiastic review from PassMeThePopcorn.com contributor Lon Harris.) But this particular post is more about the experience of the screening organized by the Facebook social media department for The Avengers.
The event was excellently done and I came away extremely impressed.
Obviously, Marvel Studios is investing a lot on The Avengers and it’s clear they are pulling out all the stops. To be honest, I’m still in a daze about having the opportunity to see this film 3 weeks early. While in line, I found myself wondering why even bother for a screening like this. It’s not like this movie needed even more buzz.
The Avengers is the undisputed biggest film of the summer of 2012.
Although, Warner Bros might make a reasonable argument for The Dark Knight Rises for being the biggest film of the summer, it’s really not a strong case. Marvel Studios has built a story arc, which has stretched over five films. Five films of what is essentially exposition for about 8 different characters. The films also established a universe which they all inhabit. Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America, are five films that have all culminated in the creation of this all-out action adventure film.
So why do a screening event like this?
The only thing I can come up with is that they wanted to thank the fans.
It’s a novel concept, especially in this age. But then again, the whole idea of The Avengers is in a way a reward for the fans. It’s sort of a big Thank You for supporting the five films that came before this one.
But I digress.
First I want to share how I even came to receive passes for this screening. It all started with a Facebook LIKE. A simple LIKE for The Avengers movie page on Facebook. Then on the morning of April 2nd The Avengers movie fan page released this link. Which announced that Los Angeles would receive a FREE movie screening of The Avengers simply because it was one of four cities to have the most fans of the film on Facebook. The link led to a short sign-up sheet. Which I quickly filled out.
And….that was it. I had an opportunity for an exclusive screening of the biggest movie of the Summer of 2012…because… I was a fan of the page on Facebook.
This BLEW MY MIND.
In all honesty, I half expected my sign-up form would lead to a spam-filled discounted offer reply to watch The Avengers on May 3rd at some remote location.
Instead…minutes later, I received a clean, clear, confirmation e-mail to view the film 3 WEEKS ahead of the official release date, not only view the film but watch it in IMAX 3D at the AMC Century City 15.
Fast forward to today. I decided, wisely to show up early to the screening. I anticipated a long line. Which there was. Of course, the line was filled with passionate comic book fans. Which, to be honest, is socially, a bit awkward for someone my age…but it was well worth the bit of awkwardness I endured.
While in line, news agencies had arrived to cover the event. They encouraged the crowd to show their enthusiasm.
They gladly obliged.
Also while in line the organizers began to distribute free Marvel hero memorabilia. They passed out costume items such as Thor’s helmet, Captain America’s mask, an Iron Man helmet, Hulk hands and my favorite …the Captain America shield.
Seemingly… just because. I expected an organized photo op or some kind of staged event to feature the swag. But that never came up.
They apparently gave them out as gifts.
Gifts for coming to a free screening of the most anticipated film of the summer. When the time came to pass out wristbands for the screening, everything went smoothly. Our names were on the master list. The line moved briskly, everything came off surprisingly smoothly. Although, we did notice one late comer who begged to be allowed to come in, but was rightfully turned away. The audience was also previously asked to leave cellphones in our cars. If not they’d be checked in at the door to be picked up later. Obviously, pirating concerns were rightfully on their mind.
Once inside the theater. We were greeted by KROQ’s Ralph Garman, who kept the surprises coming. Since we were in the theater an hour early, they’d be passing the time with a trivia contest. The reward being even more The Avengers memorabilia such as Hats, T-shirts and buttons.
Again…just because. It’s at this point that the cynic in me started to become suspicious of the studio’s motives. I mean… they are essentially preaching to the choir here. There’s no way that this movie is going to suck. EVERYONE knows that it’s coming out. There’s not really an incentive to create this kind of good will or a positive buzz for the community.
Again. The idea of gratitude just seemed to be a constant theme in the atmosphere. Marvel Studios just seemed intent on thanking the fans. After a fun and entertaining trivia session from a knowledgeable Ralph Garman he brought out a special guest.
Director Joss Whedon.
I’ve actually had the chance to interact with Joss Whedon several times. Back when I worked at Laser Blazer he was a loyal customer. From my experience of dealing with him a bit, I could tell he was extremely appreciative for the hearty welcome and he came off as sincerely, grateful for the opportunity to screen the film for a loyal audience. He genuinely seemed humbled by the entire experience. He also made some witty, sarcastic remarks about looking forward to screening ”The Justice League” for us, which brought about several laughs. Then he gave one last sincere thank you to the audience and to Marvel Studios for the opportunity to direct the film. He than gave way to Marvel Chief Kevin Feige who…again… thanked the fans… for our support. (As if a free screening wasn’t enough.) After the short, sincere, speech he said he wanted to introduce even more guests.
Some of the cast.
Needless to say the audience was whipped into a frenzy by then. Even a cynic like me came away excited and impressed by this experience. The cast gave a quick wave and and shared some shouts of thanks out to us, then some quick bows of appreciation, as they quickly walked away. Which left one last ”Thank You” to the assembled fans.
The Avengers would now be screened for us, the audience in IMAX 3D.
Which was the best thank you of all.