Yesterday was Cineworld’s first Secret Screening of 2016 and the second I have attended and they seem to be following an alarming pattern. The first Secret Screening I attended was in December when Cineworld made the bold but clearly very deliberate move of placing their screening a few days before the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
What happened next was widely reported, even in some news websites, as Cineworld Unlimited members began to speculate that the film could well be Star Wars and that Cineworld was hopefully giving them the chance to see it a full two days before anyone else.
This obviously wasn’t the case and when the green title card for In the Heart of the Sea appeared on-screen, an audible groan followed and few people actually left the cinema! Even though Cineworld had told people it wasn’t Star Wars (though not necessarily in the clearest of ways) they still got their hopes up and for many, it wouldn’t have mattered what the movie was, they were going to be disappointed.
You could chalk this up to coincidence had it not been for this week’s Secret Screening which comes only a few days before the release of Deadpool. Although not on the same scale as Star Wars, Deadpool is still a highly anticipated movie with many people relishing the chance to see it before anyone else, so this Secret Screening was again met with tweets and messages stating things such as “if it isn’t Deadpool, we riot” or “I will throw my Cineworld Card away if the film isn’t Deadpool.”
As you may already know, the movie was in fact Triple 9 and when that title card appeared, the groans were more audible than for Star Wars. This meant that the audience were already viewing Triple 9 with disappointment and it would mean the movie, which is actually very good, would have to work hard to bring them round.
This seems to be a pointless and worrying trend that Cineworld are beginning. If the Secret Screening had been a week later, the whole issue of people really wanting it to be Deadpool would not have been. People would go into the film with little to no expectation and instead of groans because it wasn’t what people hoped, they my give the movie more of a chance.
It isn’t even like Cineworld need to build this “fake” anticipation. Secret Screenings build their own interest because film fans are guaranteed to see a movie that isn’t released for a few weeks and have the opportunity to be genuinely surprised. If they, like me, can view the experience with an open-mind, they may even see a film that they wouldn’t have chosen to watch willingly and thus be pleasantly surprised.
Instead, what Cineworld do is begin their Secret Screenings with a tint of disappointment and it seems to be the cinema chain jeopardising their own event. They could very easily just schedule their movies in more clever ways so nobody feels disappointed or like they have been “tricked.”
Overall, whether it is coincidence or a marketing ploy, to schedule Secret Screenings around highly anticipated movies may be doing the event more damage than good. What should be an exciting, intriguing and quite novel experience is tainted with disappointment when it isn’t the film people feel it should be. This feels slightly pointless when it could be so easily rectified by waiting a week!