This is just a small sample of the over 1200 letters fans have sent TORn over the last week. These may be updated from time to time and this is only a small sample of the total received.
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Do you know if TORN might consider organizing a "100 shows isn't nearly enough!" petition to New Line?
I am deeply and bitterly disappointed to miss this event, especially since Loew's Theatre lied to me last week about when the tickets would go on sale. The Saturday before the sale the manager's office at Loew's in SF told me most emphatically that they would not sell any Trilogy Tuesday tickets before December 14th. Period. Don't even think about it. Not gonna happen. No.
You can imagine my shock when I looked in on TORN yesterday afternoon and learned that Loew's had blatantly lied to me. Not only that, I thought this was supposed to be a fan event, but if you have a look at how many tickets are up for auction on e-bay, you can quickly figure out that hundreds, if not thousands of fans got shut out of buying tickets legitimately.
Well, I'd rather rot in Moria than buy anything from a scalper. And I have no desire to try and string together scattered Extended Edition shows, especially since they're going to be at Loews and I will never, ever patronize them again.
In fact, I'm so upset I'm not sure I can see Return of the King at all.
Since TORN is pretty much the central hub of fan activity, and I can tell that not the only person who's extremely unhappy about how this event was handled, I hope you will consider setting up some sort of communication to New Line.
Thanks for doing a great job anyways, and best to you all
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TRILOGY TUESDAY - OTHER THEATERS?
Just wondering if you knew if it's possible to get other theaters in on the Trilogy Tuesday. We live in Memphis, TN and were very excited to see that we would have one theater showing them... we called the theater that very day to see about tickets and were told they wouldn't go on sale until November. Obviously whoever told us that was misinformed, since the Memphis theater is now completely sold out, and the nearest other theater showing it is 4-5 hours away (and all of us have to get up and go to work the next morning!)
We were just curious if it's still possible to get other theaters to show the trilogy, or if it's completely controlled by New Line or something. (We still don't know why Memphis Paradiso was chosen for the trilogy, when there is a much larger, locally placed theater that would have served it better, anyway!)
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There is a point to this e-mail, but I want to explain something before I get to it. Please be patient and read my entire message:
I have purchased thousands of dollars in Lord of the Ring's merchandise. I saw The Two Towers 18 times IN THEATRES, and I watched Fellowship of the Ring 13 times IN THEATRES. Even though I was offered illegal copies of both films, I CONTINUED TO WATCH THEM IN THEATRES. Then, I purchased the regular and extended editions of fellowship of the ring, and of Two TOwers (preorder of the extended).
For both openings, I organized parties of local fans. For Two Towers last year, I brought 50 people to the Regal Cinemas theatre in Dayton, Ohio, where we bought your tickets and fueled your success. I have subscribed to the fan club magazine, my name is on the extended edition credits of Fellowship, and I visit the TheOneRing.net and LordoftheRings.net on a daily basis.
There are tens of thousands of fans who could say the same, or even make a more impressive claim.
On October 9th, I spent 6 hours on the Internet attempting to purchase tickets for the Trilogy Screenings on December 16th. After failing to acquire tickets, I arrived at the AMC Lennox in Colubmus, Ohio at 6:00 AM the next day. I stood in line for 7 hours, only to learn that I could only purchase TWO tickets for the trilogy. While I will get to see the trilogy, many of the other people I was buying tickets for are out in the cold.
New Line Cinema is a great studio. You take risks on great films. And, in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, have created one of the true masterpieces of
cinematic history. Your willingness to take a chance with Peter Jackson, and then to cater to the fans at every step of the process, has produced something truly unique and wonderful.
I realize that you had only planned to relase these films together on a very limited basis. However, after the fans reaction on October 9th, I think it must be clear to you that several additional screens of the trilogy could be added at the theatres already showing the trilogy. Logistically, you could simply stagger the start times. Perhaps each theatre could show the trilogy starting at 9:00 AM, at 1:00 PM as planned, and then again at 4:00 PM. This way, no additional copies of the extended editions would be required, and the ticket count would be tripled. For that matter, some theatres (like the AMC Lennox in Columbus) can show the same print on two screens simultenously by threading it through two projectors. They simply require your permission to do so.
You have chance to make this ticketing fiasco right for your thousands of fans who were unable to purchase the tickets they wanted. Please continue to show the incredible sensitivity to the needs and passion of your fans that has characterized this project to date. Whoever is reading this, please do not discard it. See that it reaches the eyes of somebody who at least has the authority to act on it, even if the answer is no.
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I had the pleasure of camping out in line with a great group of fans at the local TheOneRing.net Line Party here in XXXX. It was a fun group of people and the time flew by as we tested our knowledge of Tolkien trivia, discussed the movies, learned about sword fighting from an expert and generally wiled away the hours till 9 a.m. on Thursday morning. The sense of community, not just in the TORN group but amongst everyone in line, was very tangible, and people who had never met a few hours before were doing each other favors, buying communal food, and otherwise exhibiting a real sense of fellowship.
However, as fun as the line experience was, there were a number of communication problems that hindered the process. Very little information was available from the theater about specifics on show times, what was included with the ticket price, and other important details were changed or misrepresented such as how many seats were available. Though the theater managers spoke to the people at the front of the line when they first arrived, there were no flyers, on-hand staff, or official numbering system for the line, all of which have been present at other lines I've attended in the past.
The people farther back in line could have used some official information, rather than the second and third-hand hearsay that got passed down the line to them. In addition, since the people at the front of the line had been charged with policing it, there was a lot of hostility on Thursday morning from those who had arrived too late, since we had no official backing of our information or our impromptu organization system. In addition, the demand for Trilogy Tuesday in XXX far outweighed the availability. By the moment the tickets went on sale Thursday morning there were many hundreds of people waiting in line who would be out of luck. The theater here could easily have sold out four or five screenings of the trilogy within a few hours of putting the tickets on sale. Many hundreds of people went away upset and empty-handed, some after having waited for hours in line.
The limited availability coupled with lack of information led to a lot of confusion and anger. Despite these organizational problems, however, our local line party responded admirably, with a number of people responding to the call to take shifts in the line camp. Many TORN line party members missed out on tickets, and some of those who had already sent in their money to us and had to be refunded because of the extremely limited availability. Those of us who did manage to get tickets, however, can't wait till December 16th to sit back and watch the longest fantasy movie ever made
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FAST SELL-OUTS The Trilogy Tuesday in XXX, sold out in fewer than ten minutes. Nothing is available there (unless some moron is selling tickets on ebay. It appears someone in Massachusetts has already posted three tickets for sale there).
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A group of 20 of us were on hand when the box office finally opened at 11:45am this morning at the Gateway 16 in Austin, Texas. Much to our dismay, we were told that the entire theater had already been sold out and that there were no tickets available for those of us waiting in line. The manager on duty said there was nothing that could be done and we could either contact Fandango or Regal's Corporate Office to issue our concerns.
As of this moment, after speaking with Customer Service at Regal's Corporate Offices in Knoxville, TN, there is no resolution for those of us who waited in line to no avail. Meaning, nobody, including person #1 in line, was able to purchase tickets for the back-to-back showings. Customer Service has suggested that we contact New Line directly.
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RUINING LIVES IN XXX! I live in XXX, and the trilogy is only being shown in one theater in the entire state. First of all, this is just ridiculous. This morning over 200 fans (THAT WERE EACH PLANNING ON BUYING THE LIMIT OF 6 TICKETS PER PERSON; THIS MEANS THAT THEY HAVE TURNED AWAY 1200 EAGER CUSTOMERS [1200 would fill an additional three theaters] AT $35 A PIECE. BASICALLY NEW LINE JUST MISSED OUT ON $43,000, AND THIS IS JUST IN ONE STATE)were turned away after waiting for hours in the cold. The worst part is that we were waiting in vain. This due to the fact that we were led to believe that the trilogy would be shown in three of the theaters in the XXX, instead of just one. We need to get this information across to New Line, since they are responsible. We can't find any way to contact anyone from New Line to inform them how many lives they're ruining. We need to get this information, so if anyone knows, PLEASE contact me. We're hoping that we can get this information out to enough people that New Line will receive enough complaints, that they will do something about it. Thanks for any help you can give. Is there any thing else we can do? Let me know. Thank You
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INTERNET FRUSTRATIONS: Tickets are now available for Trilogy Tuesday at the XXX, through Fandango. They are $35 plus a $1 fee, which includes all three films. For those who struggle with getting around Fandango's ludicrous mazes of web pages, I'll be placing detailed directions on the line party page. I was trying to buy tickets for the trilogy event right at 10am but they never came available. Did they sell out in the 1 second it took me to refresh?
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DESPERATE: Oh my gosh! I never thought it'd go like this. The XXX is ridiculous! Tickets went up for sale an hour late, and then there were technical difficulties... people wasted over an hour of their afternoon waiting for an order to process that never actually went through! So now, the theatre is saying that they are sold out... but I've been getting hundreds of emails from people saying that they didn't get tickets! I've now officially filed a complaint with the upper offices of AMC and I've sent the same to New Line Cinema. Did you have this chicanery with your ticket sales? I'm now trying to get New Line and AMC to sell us out a theatre since we all got screwed royally!
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CLUELESS THEATERS: I just spoke with my theatre in XXXXX. They are NOT happy campers. New Line announced this with no prior warning to the exhibitors and has followed up with practically no information whatsoever. So... 8 hours before October 9th they cannot tell me the times, the prices or exactly when they will be on sale.
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FANS WITH NO TRILOGY: In XXX we don't have an extended edition showing locally, and the closest one is 2+ hours away, but we are lobbying the theaters to try to get one. The line party will be willing to move to whichever theater will be showing Trilogy Tuesday. Although this is the first year for an actual line party in XXX, last year Rings fans filled up two theaters for The Two Towers midnight screening at XXX, and more screens at other theaters, so there should be enough fans to make it worth the theater's time to run the extended editions. Any suggestions for who else we could talk to in order to make this happen for fans in XXX? Have you heard from other line parties in this position?
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TRILOGY TUESDAY THOUGHTS: I thought the whole thing was very poorly handled from the beginning. I get the feeling that it was a last-minute decision, or at least that they didn't get around to thinking of the fans until the last minute. Things that would have helped:
EARLIER AND MORE DETAILED INFORMATION: Giving out the list of theaters only a week before tickets go on sale? That's just guaranteeing confusion, especially with the Line Parties. For a lot of people, that's not even enough warning to get a day off work.
BETTER COMMUNICATION WITH THE THEATERS: From all the talk on the boards, it seems that the theaters themselves were caught off guard. Apparently they didn't have more than a week to plan things either. I couldn't even find out the show times before tickets went on sale, much less break times and duration, food options, etc (I still don't know about the break schedule or whether there will be in and out privileges). For all I knew, the trilogy could have started anywhere from noon to 3 pm. That would make a difference for a lot of people.
A CENTRAL WEB PAGE OR WEBSITE: with official information from New Line and the theaters would have been nice. Instead, as usual, it was up to TORN to sort through all the info. But official sites never do seem to have the info I'm looking for. They leave it to the fan sites to come up with the goods.
AND OF COURSE - MORE THEATERS: Or at least more showings. Have the trilogy run a couple of times at the selected theaters. Give those expensive special prints some use! I appreciate the fact that they at least had 3 theaters in the Bay Area (North, South and East Bay)...but there are roughly 7 million people living here. Demand must have been severely underestimated. Exclusive is one thing, but this was like winning the lottery. A lottery might even have been more fair. Which brings me to my next point...
TICKET SALE TIMES: Selling tickets on a Thursday morning? And with no announced sale time? Practically everyone is at school or work. I was lucky; I was sitting at my computer and able to get into Fandango very shortly after tickets went on sale, and I got mine. Many other people I know couldn't get through or couldn't get online until a couple hours later...by which time it was too late. And if the so many of the denizens of TORN, who are just the tip of the iceberg where LOTR fans are concerned, couldn't get tickets, there are a lot more frustrated and angry fans out there. At the very least, I think authorizing theaters to show a trilogy of theatrical release prints would be a good idea. It would be second best, but a lot of LOTR fans just want a chance to see the whole story as a single movie on the big screen.
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1) Granted there is undoubtedly some logic in limiting the number of theaters TT played in due to the expense of each print. Why not, then, chose the very largest theater they could find in each city? And/or chose a theater that could play one print on multiple screens?! *THAT wouldn't have cost them a penny more and they would have made more money (or lost much less, as the case may be)!* Lets do some math, shall we? Here in XXX, the TT will play to 436 people when it could have played to more than 2,000 at a theater that can play one print in multiple theaters. That's $70,000 they could have made vs. the $15,260 they're going to make based on their choice, for a difference of $54,740!
Conservatively, if most cities could only have managed a 1000 person venue, that would be about $20,000 per city they left on the table. Multiply that by 100 cities (I don't know the exact number) and that's $2 Million they left on the table...
2) Numerous theaters, general managers, managers, janitors, etc. were totally left out of the loop that they were even hosting TT, no less when, how much, when tickets would go on sale, would they be available on line; everything that a professional release should have covered. All of the major online companies had the press release information and not one iota more right up until after tickets physically went on sale at most theaters. A few pretty press releases are one thing, but they have to be followed up with countless details that all have to be pulled off well. In other words, their execution was [bites tongue] rather poor. Their operations people should be shot too. 3) An awful lot of people (in theaters, at ticketing websites, at fan websites) are now having to run around and clean up after the New Line elephants and they are NOT amused, nor is there any pretense about exactly where the source of the screw up was.
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NOT JUST THEONERING.NET
My nephew moderates a website for movie theater types, and knows people all over the country, and the story's pretty much the same - chaos ruled. Also, with New Line using the excuse of money as the limiting factor, you'd think they would have given it at least some consideration. It appears they gave it little to none. If I could invest nothing, and make $2 Million, I'd certainly do it.
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OH, NL WAS DEFINITELY SHORTSIGHTED And ridiculously so. The ticket sales to the first day of release FotR alone should have told them there was vastly more interest than they supposedly anticipated. There was no excuse for that. And I've known enough theater managers to realize that we're lucky to have someone with a brain who is also a fan running our theater. He made the best that could have been made of a bad situation, and from the evidence of various reports, some of the other managers made it far worse than it need have been (and that's being kind).
What astonishes me at the same time I'm not the least bit surprised by it is the fact that the crummy managers and NL supposedly have one goal in mind: to make as much money as possible. Yet by their behavior, it would seem that something other than money -- heaven only knows what -- is their motivation, because with a little better planning and coordination, they certainly could have made more. After all, how many theaters in the US are packed to the rafters in every single auditorium on a Tuesday?
XXX has something like 24 or 40 theaters in it, six of them are BIG, and if they'd wanted to or had been allowed, they could have run staggered showings, like they do with all big blockbuster films, in more than one auditorium. That wouldn't have necessarily required extra copies of the film, and many more customers would've been satisfied. After all, I don't think too many of the disappointed fans would've minded being at the 12:30 AM showing of RotK rather than the midnight show. Sure, there are people who MUST be at the VERY first show, but from what I know of the local fans who go to the post-midnight shows, they're most interested in sharing that first experience with their friends, and staying up all night is a part of the attraction to them. It could've been handled better -- it probably could still be handled better, but I'm not so sure NL will be willing to wipe the egg off their face and do it. Shrug.
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ON FAN RELATIONS I just watched a few hundred people get turned away from an event they've been waiting months for and had stood in line for hours for. In our city, the theater had the ability to show one print to three screens, thereby making the one trilogy showing in my state available to over a thousand people. Apparently New Line then told this theater that they could only show it on one of those screens, reducing it that very morning to 500 seats. I assume the reasoning behind this is because New Line wants to give special give-aways at the Trilogy Tuesday showing and they have a limited number per print. The idea behind giving something to faithful fans is a noble one, but not very well thought out. There are thousands more fans just as loyal that were unable to get tickets. These people are upset and angry because they can't see the films they love in a marathon showing. People don't even know there is a give away. They just want to watch the movies.
Since a give away has not been advertised, the only result is that you'll have a few hundred people very pleased about their luck, and a few thousand people even more upset in every city it is showing. Another symptom that fan relations are not being very well thought out is the difficulty that fans are having in organizing parties around the midnight showing of Return of the King. New Line refused to work with them on the Extended Edition showings and has continued to put stumbling blocks in the way of party planning.
Theaters willing to work with these fans have been unable to because New Line won't commit to their ability to do so. These are the fans that are focused on working together, committed to the community of fandom. These are the ones that give New Line its free advertising. As far as I can tell, the Trilogy Tuesday event was only advertised through fans. This is probably because it is really only for the true fans, but the effect has been that most of these very fans they wish to do something good for are being excluded from doing anything at all, simply because New Line wants to be in control of the fan goodness.
The community-focused fans are not your enemies. They do not wish to leech your profits. Sometimes they may get over excited, but all you then have to do is channel that energy. Treat them with more respect, and you'll get even more out of them. These are grassroots people willing to give hours of free labor just to promote your films. The fact that they are in the field, at the level of the consumers they live with is your best advertising asset. They've been talking to the people in their city and they know what those people want. It makes the party feel real. Instead of making it difficult for them to organize their own events at theaters, work with them.
Show the people that aren't lucky enough to live in Wellington, New York, or LA that their premiere events are important ones too, because these people are actually the bulk of your audience. Where is your biggest fan run Line Party? It isn't in one of the big cities of the world, but in the Midwest of the USA, in XXX. That is where I saw probably about 700 people get turned away from the Trilogy Tuesday event months before it would occur, all so that you could give some kind of exclusivity to 500 people. Who the hell cares about that? All they wanted to do was see the Extended Editions on the big screen before they got to see the much-anticipated Return of the King.
Not so they can be first to see Return of the King or get a special gift, but because they loved the first two films and can't wait to see the last installment of the trilogy. And now they are disappointed. I'm not a member of the TORN staff. I'm not even one of those few hundred fans that got turned away this morning in XXX. I actually cared more about a party with fans than about an exclusive corporate sponsored event, but I wanted to help those that were part of our Line Party to get the best of both worlds. These people are going to two theaters that night, because they want to see the Extended Editions on the big screen in a marathon run on the same day they saw Return of the King, AND they want to party with the fans that have been with this movie since its production was announced. I'm just a member of the committee for that party, and there is very little we can do right now because we can't make plans with the theater. Many of our previous plans based on encouraging signals from New Line were junked because New Line backed away from any commitment to its fans and instead took up with the business people. Make a habit of working with fans of the films you create, instead of giving them the run around.
There are lots of ways to go about this. I might even suggest having someone whose job it is to be a liaison between the fans and New Line. Then give that person some power to do his or her job. Have a planned set of things you can do for the fans, depending on the size of the local group and the event they are planning. There are many inexpensive and endearing things you could do for the fans. Follow through on the negotiations, and don't back out. But let the planning stay local and grassroots. You may think that this won't affect your profits much right now, but by doing this, you'll create a fan base not just for the actors, directors, or story but also for New Line. People will plan local events around New Line's blockbusters because it is easy, and more people will attend because it is enjoyable. Give New Line a reputation of being fan friendly, and you'll be rewarded with the word of mouth advertising that is so crucial to the success of a film.
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SOME INTERNATIONAL INFORMATION WOULD BE APPRECIATED
It's no good announcing that you're going to do international showings, and then never getting around to announcing them whilst America fusses about buying tickets. Ignoring the rest of the world is a costly mistake
- the box office takes for the first releases of both films have been significantly boosted worldwide, and we do go to the cinema as well. Cinemas like the XXX would be filled with this event (they've just been showing Finding Nemo a week early, digital, and with that print and one other screen somewhere else, the film's at number 11 on this week's chart). Do the math. You're losing money, and you're losing reputation, and neither will do any good in the long run.
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I think New Line has just managed to blow almost all the good will they spent the last 4 years building up - in just a couple of days. Way to go guys.
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NEW LINE'S FOOT
New Line really shot themselves in the foot by not choosing the theaters more carefully. The limited number of XXX theaters is particularly pathetic. One theater in the XXX area, one in XXX and none in the XXX? The XXX is the fastest growing area in the US. Many people with jobs in XXX and XXX are moving here from the XXX and XXX areas because the housing is more affordable. I realize it's too late to correct this oversight now, but it would be nice for those who live in the insulated areas of the West Side of XXX to realize that there are literate film fans with money out here in the boonies. Also, the ticket purchasing systems should have been checked out more thoroughly to make sure they wouldn't crash with all the extra activity. And more detailed information regarding when and where tickets could be purchased would have been extremely helpful.