My friends and I were supposed to attend a free preview of a movie this evening, at a major theater in Boston. My buddy, A, had received an e-invitation to attend, and had RSVP'd to reserve four seats. The passes that were e-mailed to her said she had a confirmed reservation for four, and noted the film would begin at 7pm. When A arrived at the theater with our passes at 6:40, they refused to seat us. Come to find out, besides the "confirmed reservation" passes (which featured our names), the film promoters had also distributed free tickets on the street. Also, it was possible to come to the theater and "purchase" free tickets to the showing. As result, the theater was already full.
Perhaps if we lived in New York or Los Angeles, we would have known this is how the film world works. Yet we are but naive New Englanders. Others were obviously confused as well, since by 6:50 the lobby was full of disappointed people clutching confirmation e-mails. To us, a "confirmed reservation" implies confirmation from the powers that be that seats have been reserved for us. It strikes me that if they were going to use a "confirmed reservation" e-system, they should have kept enough seats for the reservations open until a few minutes before the film began, then opened it up to people with free tickets from the street.
The only other free preview we had ever attended was very well organized, where everyone had to commit to attending the performance before being physically granted a ticket. I have heard of other free screenings that were entirely populated by people who had been handed free tickets on the street. Combining the two systems seems like a recipe for disaster.
This experience really irritated me. We had all gone out of our way to attend this showing. Two of us schlepped in from the suburbs, and one of us neglected some important homework in favor of the showing. The fourth member of our party is confined to a wheelchair, and had to hire a driver to get there. At the end of the day, it's not the worst thing in the world, but still very annoying.