Regal Cinemas Improves Sondheim, Adds Blue Screen Of Death To 'Ladies Who Lunch'

If the projection system at a movie theater fails and management gives you passes for readmission, should they give you passes that actually readmit you to the program you saw? Regal Cinemas charges a premium for filmed theatre and opera events shown on movie screens, almost double what it costs to watch a regular movie. Katie was watching a screening of the New York Philharmonic’s recent all-star version of the musical “Company” at her local Regal theater when the projection zonked out during a key song and was replaced by Microsoft’s famed Blue Screen of Death. Due to satellite problems, they missed most of the rest of the performance. Management gave out passes for another movie…which was nice, but they weren’t good for special events. Like, for example, the next screening of “Company” that people who missed a chunk of the show might want to see.

Annoyed that she was out $40 and didn’t even get to see to see the curtain call, she fired off this letter to the company.

I am writing in regard to my experience at the screening of Stephen Sondheim’s Company at Regal [redacted] on June 16, 2011. I spent a total of $38.50 on tickets alone for my party of two to attend the screening – nearly double the cost of seeing a regular film at your theater. With such an exorbitant price, I expect to, at the very least, be able to see the entire feature; this did not happen.

During the song “Ladies Who Lunch” (which is one of the highlights of the show), the sound repeatedly cut out, the image on the screen pixilated and skipped, and then the entire film outright stopped and we were left to stare at a Windows XP screen. We sat there for approximately ten minutes hoping that the problem would be fixed before a manager finally decided to come in. He explained that they were picking up satellite from Colorado and that if everyone sat back down, they were going to try to get us the rest of the film. We sat there for another ten minutes.

The fix involved watching the same “signal lost/did not record” sequence happen again, Windows rebooting, and then they fast forwarded through Patti LuPone’s “Ladies Who Lunch” instead of letting us see and hear the entire song. They played Neil Patrick Harris’ “Being Alive,” though the volume was not fully restored, and then the screen cut to black, then another Windows screen. No manager came back. No end of the film, no birthday party scene, no curtain call – nothing. No one even came to turn on the lights; a customer trying to leave actually fell on the stairs in the dark.

An employee who did not appear to be a manger was giving customers “readmission passes” at customer service, declining to process any ticket refunds. This would have been acceptable if these passes did not state across the top that they were not valid for special events (or RPX, IMAX, or 3-D features – which cost less than this screening). This means that I would not have even been able to use that “readmission pass” to see the same show at the June 19th screening and would have to spend another $38.50 if I wanted to see the ending of Company.

I honestly feel that management should have been more communicative with the full theater about what was happening and that we should have either been given our money back or invited back to the second screening of Company (or another special event, such as a Met Encores event). If this goodwill gesture had been extended, I would have happily returned to the theater and even spent money on concessions during the return visit.

Instead, I see that nearly $40 spent at Regal Cinemas does not mean I’ll even be able to see an entire film. I see that management doesn’t really care and instead of inviting us to return for another special event, customers are just left to stumble and fall in a dark theater. I’m disappointed that I was not able to see the end of a spectacular production of Company and I’m even more disappointed that Regal was not willing to make things right by their customers.