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Middle-earth Shuttle Closed Early

November 18, 2003 at 6:48 pm by maegwen  - 

Indy writes: A friend and I had heard about the subway promotional event off this site, so we went to check it out, and I have to say it was handled appallingly. I suspected there would be giveaways, as there often are at such things (perhaps just paper bookmarks or stickers). But I never dreamed they’d give away the DVD itself, which is fine since I didn’t get one anyway. They had DVD’s and a medallion item to give away, but it was all handled so nastily that I, even as a huge fan, have to say it served to turn me off to the whole thing, rather than pique my interest.

I got there right about 11:20 AM, and a rather large, but tame crowd drew pretty quickly. They had a short train, on which one car had been lit green and decorated with leaf-patterned seats and ads for the DVD. There were Gollum figures (about 1/2 scale) on the end of each bench in the car (about 16 total). Some of the subway platform pillars were wrapped in straw. And the platform benches had two more of the same Gollum figures on logo platforms that had some crude little voice feature (like the toys have) that was totally drowned out and could not be heard. That was about it.

But what was really crummy was how once again New Line seems to have totally underestimated interest in LOTR and just not prepared for their own party. The giveaways were snapped up so quickly that a lot of people never seemed to know what was even being given away until it was all over, and then it quickly degenerated into a nasty “crowd dispersal” operation by cops and MTA workers who were screaming and yelling in everyone’s faces to leave and that the train was “for the press only” and everyone had to leave the platform. They took what might have been a mildly interesting stunt that could have been worth a smirk on your lunch break and turned it into an opportunity to make regular people feel left out of something they never knew was even going on.

What was the worst was to see some of the younger fans, kids and teens, who seemed to have come knowing about the event (hoping to get a look at something fun), leave having been pushed and shoved around, screamed at and made to feel like they’d done something wrong for even being interested. It was nasty. I saw a group of kids skulk away with their chaperone, muttering how “Gollum sucks”. I don’t think that was the intended point of the event. It made me feel like telling those kids to just read the book and forget about the movie. Of course, all the press that was there seemed to be carting around their free DVD’s. They got first crack it seemed. Good for them, like I’m sure they deserve free copies more than any fans (!). It wasn’t any kind of special promotional disc used for media coverage, it just looked like the same new extended set that is now sold in stores – a straight-up swag bribe to members of the media. That’s not so surprising, I suppose, but it didn’t help that it was done right in the faces of the fans that were being actively screamed at and turned away at that same moment, two feet away.

Oh, and all of this was totally over by 12:15 PM, a full hour and 15 minutes before the event was supposed to end; it was a mere 45 minutes into the event by the time everything was totally over and the platform was completely cleared by the cops. It’s interesting to see the speculation that this behavior regarding surprise giveaways may explain the lack of additional Trilogy Tuesday screenings. If that’s the reason, I’ll be livid. JUST SHOW MORE OF US THE MOVIES!, New Line! Here in NYC, it was IMPOSSIBLE to get tickets to Trilogy Tuesday, and I don’t know a single ardent fan who got one despite going to great lengths try and order online that day or go to the theaters in person that day. After two spectacular experiences with FOTR and TTT, the leadup to ROTK has really been nothing but disappointment after disappointment for fans so far (in my own personal experience anyway), directly caused by the company, it seems. Too bad. Too bad indeed.

This LOTR train was “Out of Service”.

-Indy.

* * *

Ringer Spy Lisa writes: I work a couple of blocks away from Grand Central, so, I decided to wander over there at lunchtime and check out the “Middle-earth shuttle.”

Got on the thankfully-not-too-long line at about 12:30 and waited patiently behind a chain across the platform. There were people milling about the platform and then, finally, about 10 minutes later, the train took off for Times Square. And that’s when the cops told us it was all over. At 12:45. Not 1:30. 12:45. Because all the DVDs and medallions were gone and they didn’t want anybody else on the platform.

Huh?

It seems to me that New Line has a misguided perception of what fans want. Nowhere in the announcement about the shuttle did it say that there would be giveaways… but people showed up. So why would you end it when the giveaways that nobody knew about anyway are gone?

It’s interesting hearing this on the heels of some speculation I’ve seen that part of the reason why New Line hasn’t opened up Trilogy Tuesday to additional screens is that they have something they’re giving away and don’t want to have to produce more.

Again… nowhere in the press or announcements did it intimate that ticket buyers would get anything but the chance to see the movies… and yet, there is the possibility (though, of course, I only read that on the internet, so, who knows? :)), that the limited availability of non-promoted giveaways is stopping them from expanding the release. If this is true, it seems they are definitely uncelar about what makes fans show up for this kind of thing.

Next time something like this comes up, remind me to take my magic watch that tells me that 12:45 is actually 1:30. 😛

So frustrating.

Lisa

Posted in Events, Old Spy Reports, Other Events on November 18, 2003 by

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