Star Wars fans showed their dark side Thursday night at an AMC theater in Burbank, California, when a screening of The Last Jedi was canceled because of sound problems. The eighth chapter in the Skywalker family saga, The Last Jedi is without question the hottest movie ticket around the world this weekend, with more than $425 million in ticket sales projected at the global box office by Sunday.
Following the $2 billion performance of The Force Awakens in 2015, fans have been patiently waiting two years for Episode VIII to appear, with the anticipation building to a fever pitch since writer-director Rian Johnson and his cast have expertly kept details of the film shrouded in secrecy.
The wait came to an end for many fans Thursday night however, as ticket-buyers shelled out more than $45 million at the domestic box office to get the answers to the questions they've been looking for. That is, with the exception of a theater full of fans at a technically plagued screening of The Last Jedi at an AMC theater in California. When their screening was shut down, fans spilled out into the lobby and got into heated confrontations with AMC theater personnel.
According to social media accounts of theatergoers (via THR), the screening of the film was cut short about 10 minutes in at the AMC Burbank 16 because the film had no sound. The theater apparently couldn't fix the problem and didn't restart the film, leading fans to move out into the lobby to complain to theater management. In a smartphone video posted by theatergoer user Lynly Erlich, the tension in the lobby escalated as fans are heard shouting expletives at AMC employees, leading others to eventually chant, "Restart it!"
The video then cuts to an AMC employee explaining to attendees that the theater is unable to start the film, offering refunds, which was met with several more people shouting expletives. My Burbank News said the unrest eventually led to police responding to the theater. See their tweet below:
UPDATE: Police are about to enter Theater 5 at the AMC 16's for an 'uprising'
— myBurbank News (@myBurbankNEWS) December 15, 2017
AMC reportedly worked on solutions to try to calm the crowd. Twitter user Isaias Rodriguez posted that the theater offered to move people to another screening, although the film wouldn't be presented in IMAX. The theater also offered tickets to a screening at the theater Friday. See his tweet below:
Yeah sure. AMC offered a couple of options. 1 was they can move you to another screening at the same theater but it would not be in IMAX. 2nd was to get to attend a screening of the movie at another amc theatre tomorrow at times that they have a available.
— Isaias Rodriguez (@ISA1AS3000) December 15, 2017
Naturally, it's hard for anyone to judge what went on at the theater if they weren't there, but by all the indications, AMC handled the situation the best way they could given the circumstances by offering alternatives to the troubled screening. Fans were understandably upset, but it's unfortunate that the situation escalated to the point where law enforcement had to get involved. It turned out what was supposed to be a joyous occasion into just the opposite.
With any luck, having its equipment malfunction at the start of the biggest film release in two years will make all theaters, not just the unfortunate one in Burbank Thursday night, take pause and institute test procedures to prevent another scenario like the one in Burbank from ever happening again. No business wants to ever be at the receiving end of the wrath of fans of any movie, much less one with a massive fan base like Star Wars.
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