Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Cap'n Presents: Adventures in Projectioneering (Part Five)

 This entry in Projectioneering is just barely about movies. That's your warning. What follows is a brief account of what projectionists and ushers do when given too much time and disposable promotional garbage. It is a tale of wanton abuse of information and violence. Prepare yourself.

 During the summer of 2000, when management clearly wasn't paying attention to the "upstairs" part of the theatre, it was not uncommon to see four or five projectionists during a shift. For a sixteen screen cineplex, that breaks down to roughly three-and-a-half to four movies per projectionist. Needless to say, we had a LOT of free time in between (contrasted to when I was running all sixteen by myself, which required elaborate charts of what to start, what stopped, and what needed to be threaded in order to ensure everything started on time). We'd play cards, tell stories, arbitrarily edit trailers, and just generally be buffoons because nobody had the good sense to send two or three of us home.

 One evening, when we realized that the free CD-ROM's of some now defunct internet provider were never going to sell, we decided to have our own gladiatorial combat session in one of the theatres. I mean, the ushers were asking for it, and we were game to take them down a peg. We fashioned weapons out of the plastic wrapped, stock paper cases, and prepared ourselves. It was only a matter of deciding which screen to shut down for our battle.

 We decided on number 12 - where What Lies Beneath was playing. Most of the time nobody was ever in there anyway, because What Lies Beneath sucked. It was the kind of thing you could just sense - even dogs knew that Robert Zemeckis, Harrison Ford, and Michelle Pfeiffer laid a rotten egg in any theatre dumb enough to keep it around. Accordingly, we figured nobody would really miss a showing of it if we "removed" the screening for a week night.

 Of course, as we were preparing for war, some hapless couple came in to buy tickets for (what else) What Lies Beneath. In an act of pure cruelty, we sent the assistant manager of projectionists down to explain that the air conditioning was leaking and that we had "closed" the screen for the night. With our lie firmly in place, they agreed to see something else, accepted passes for What Lies Beneath another night, and we staged war!

 Projectionists being the clever sort we are, we hid a cache of cds in the ceiling to deprive the ushers of much needed ammunition, and brought it out as we moved in. We took the high ground and the advantage, and as the foolish popcorn and soda cleaners charged the stadium seating, we pelted them with cds. I crafted a sort of bolo using the discs and some duct tape and went wild with melee attacks, and our victory was decisive. I mean, they never really had a chance.

 In retrospect, this may be the exact moment that management realized there were too many projectionists working at the theatre, and as many of them left for school, they opted not to replace them, leaving me alone most days. On the weekend they'd put someone on the other side, but we rarely if ever saw each other. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But man did we give those ushers a thwacking.

Postscript: If, for some reason, you were the couple trying to see What Lies Beneath that night and are reading this, I apologize. Not that you missed the terrible movie, but that we misled you - it wasn't that theatre with the leaky air conditioner. That was the one with Scary Movie in it.

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