I had a bad day today.

A variety of things contributed to it, most of them not worth wasting your time with. It was a crappy day, a day devoted to making other people happy but for me quite taxing and extremely unrewarding. I had one thing to look forward to, the cherry on top.

Justin and I were going to see the midnight showing of Legion, both to fuel our next podcast and so I could get a review in front of you folks before lunchtime tomorrow. Expectations were low for the film, but there were good odds at the worst it’d give us a lot of material. Plus it featured people mutating, and I am a fan of such things. I decided this weekend not to pre-purchase tickets online as much anymore. I can count on one hand the amount of times in the past five years the tactic prevented us from being turned away at a theater. There are so many screens these days that unless it’s the current 3-D sensation that is selling theaters chances are slim something’s going to sell out or even force the audience to sit in bad seats. Screenings, yes. Oftentimes they fill up quick and seats are crappy. Arthouse films, sometimes. If there’s a film only playing at one screen, maybe it’s wise to pre-purchase.

But otherwise, all it’s done in the past was make me pay a service charge for no reason.

I checked to make sure there was to be a midnight showing and there was. Granted I’d have to drive to a theater in an odd location in an area that borders on seedy on a rainy night after a long day of cigar smoke and being on my feet, but it was going to be worth it. I didn’t buy the tickets because there was a 1 in 6,039,284 chance of it being sold out.

I hustle ass to the theater after closing the shop and on the way see a really horrible car accident being cleaned up after. Not a good night to drive.

The door is locked. The kiosk in front shows no trace of the 12:05am or 12:15am showtimes I had glimpsed at 6:00am this morning. A few others show up, one with a printout of the showtime with them, which plainly showcased the theater we were at and the showtime. Justin arrives as we get the attention of a manager roaming the lobby.

“We canceled midnight showings. Corporate made a decision to cancel them.”

That’s it. I’ve just spent 30 minutes driving at 11:30 at night in the rain to have a guy tell me that their company up and decided to shitcan the midnight movie program.

Logic tells me that if corporate is going to do away with the concept it’d do away with them once their commitment to ONE MORE DAY OF THEM and then not advertise them the following week, not assume that no one saw the listings that had been there all along. You have a group (granted, a small one but still) of people who have made the effort to be there at the advertised time. You don’t just turn them away. You have to honor that. It’s one of the cornerstones customer service is built on.

Nope. He then ushers us inside to give us free tickets, which are useless. There is his boss, who is as blase and indifferent as can be, a feat since I worked under the most blase and indifferent theater manager ever back in 1989-90. He says ‘corporate decided not to do them anymore’ as if that had any bearing. We showed up, in this era and economy a customer is a rather special thing. Something to truly bend over backwards for. He gave less than a shit about the people who had showed up to a screening they were having, money in hand. It wasn’t a private promo screening. It was a showtime we were paying $11.00 for.

I took point, because this was my cherry on top of a shitty day. And I had just driven from Suwanee to get there. I passed three damn movie theaters on the way to this theater.

The guy had the gall to tell me it’s my job to keep checking the showtimes throughout the day. As if it’s our job. As if we should just keep refreshing in case they get a wild hair up their ass to kill an advertised showtime.

You need to honor that commitment. Even if it means staying an extra two hours… oh wait, they were already scheduled for those two extra hours…

They offered us free passes for our efforts, and since most people think that getting free shit is the best thing in the world, some people were rebuffed. If you devote your time to an advertised event, and that event disappears, you are owed more than a ticket. Especially at midnight on a rainy day on roads overrun with cops.

And he handled it poorly. Didn’t even get up. Just acted like we fucked up because we were dumb enough to do the research about the showtime and make the effort to be there. Just an all-around horrible job.

Regal Entertainment Group is a huge company. I have given them thousands of dollars over the years and CHUD has sponsored untold amounts of screenings in their theaters over the ten years we’ve been doing screenings. The theater down the street from my home is a Regal. And I’m pretty laid-back about stuff. This got to me. Partially because I had a sense of obligation to get a review up. Partially because I am pretty anal about making sure movie showtimes and stuff are locked in. Partially because I NEEDED IT TONIGHT. I really did.

They should have made the effort to provide the film. Projectionists oftentimes have to check the film the night before it opens. Every manager knows how to run the projector. They should have realized that we’d done everything right and to turn us away may not mean anything to them, since they’re just pawns in some corporation’s game.

What they did was nothing. Free tickets aren’t as valuable as time. As the gas we spent getting there. As having to turn around and deal with the roads again unfulfilled and fuming. It’s bullshit. It’s laziness. It’s bad customer service. The only reason we were there is because they created a showtime for us to come to. They promoted it, we came. Regal should have honored the showtime and then if they were going to get rid of midnight movies, wait until the following week when they hadn’t yet advertised them.

My ticket alone isn’t a loss for them. But you never know when someone you treat like crap has a voice that actually has a reach in the industry, at least on a local level. I’m mulling my next move but I can tell you right now…

Regal Hollywood 24 off hwy 85 will not be getting my business again. I’ve seen dozens upon dozens of movies there. I will never spend a dime there again. On the best of nights I’d be furious at the inconvenience. Tonight, it’s tragic. I just have to decide how wide my personal vendetta again the chain is going to be and how many of you I might need to enlist in bringing their fuck-up to them.

But you aren’t getting a Legion review unless I can pull something together in the morning. I have an option but it’s going to inconvenience me even more if I do. I just don’t know. But Regal’s corporate decision to banish midnight movies that they’ve already scheduled is a big fuck-up. If it’s made as a cost-cutting move it’s going to bite them in the ass, but in lacking both the common sense to honor their commitment to tonight and in doing a shitty rush job in its execution, they have lost a rather sizable customer with a really loud voice.

Now I can go to bed.

Post your Regal Cinemas horror stories here.