Saturday, June 30, 2007

Free Stuff: Want to go to the movies?

I mentioned that I went to see the movie The Kingdom recently. It's an amazing movie -- a bit "Hollywood" at points and very graphic, but still a good way to spend a Friday night. As good as it was, it might be more interesting that the movie doesn't come out until September 28th, and the cost to see it was Free.

I didn't bittorrent it or get a Canal Street $5 special. I saw it on the big screen at the Sony/Loews 68th street theater through the Screening Exchange. The Screening Exchange is one of those things that helps make up for the high cost and sacrifices of living in the city. In select theaters, you get to see rough cuts of the film; sometimes the ending is changed*, the score isn't complete or the film quality in certain scenes is grainy. In most cases, it feels like a complete movie and the cost is right -- Free.

Very often at 68th street Loews, you'll see people standing outside with fluorescent sheets of paper. They look like they might be trying to give you a coupon for 15% off men's suits, and the urge to avoid eye contact is great. One day I passed one of these folks, and as I pass I hear a muffled "free movie?" To get an idea of the tone, replace "free movie" with "need tickets" or "smoke?". Sounded fishy, but the words "free movie" really do hit me at a primal level, and I had to go back. That was Griffin & Phoenix, a movie which came and went with zero fanfare. We saw it a little over a year ago. Okay movie, made better by the ticket price -- Free.

The ticket mongers outside the theater are the easiest way to grab tickets. The other way is to sign up [see below] and be contacted by email when shows are upcoming. They call you the day before usually, tell you what ages are permitted and when and where to meet. You'd be wise to show up 15-30 minute before the time they say, as seating is limited, and the line fills up quickly. Also, bring something to do - knitting, reading, crossword, su doku -- since you'll be standing for a while.

Since last May, we've seen:

  • Griffin & Phoenix
  • Music & Lyrics
  • Smokin' Aces
  • Blades of Glory
  • The Kingdom
We think it was a few more maybe, and there were lots of calls we just couldn't go to, ie. a weekday at 1:30 pm, etc. Signing up is free, and the movies are fun. The only downside it waiting on line for an hour, but it's worth it to bring a friend if your calendars are empty!

Link: The Screening Exchange

* When I worked in web design, my company got to see a screening of Kate and Leopold. In the version I saw, Liev Schrieber's character was dating Meg Ryan, just as in the final version. For the theatrical release, they omitted the storyline where she also happened to be his grandmother... Icky.

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