I, too, was at the Chicago screening last night. Without a ticket, I might add, but someone who was alone was kind enough to bring me in as their guest.

The theater was *not* full, probably a combination of bad weather and people not valuing things they get for free. I think if anyone had leaked the location sooner, we’d have had every seat full. Of course, then I might not have made it in, since I only found the location an hour before the showing.

The guys giving out the tickets, which included a free drink and popcorn, indicated that there were other “freebies” that didn’t arrive in time to be handed out. Didn’t matter one bit, as far as I was concerned.

The audience, while not capacity, was very enthusiastic about the screening. Applause and hooting when the lights went down; wild applause for the Two Towers trailer; applause again when the movie started (and when it ended, of course). Delighted reactions to all the new materials, no matter how small. Places where one or two lines were added got laughs and cheers.

As for the EE itself, marvelous movie that *everyone* should have seen on the big screen. Small as some changes are, they add greatly to the characterization and the lore of the story. I don’t think I need to go into spoilers, since the DVD reviews get pretty detailed on what is added.

To me, the EE is what the movie should have been all along. The theatrical release came so close, but there were places where I was saying “but…” Not so with this version, which is just delightfully done. Every member of the Fellowship gets to shine a little more, particularly Merry & Pippin, but also Gimli and his relationship with Legolas. Heck, I finally got to see Gimli with his helmet off. And see Legolas’ attitude toward dwarves — or one dwarf – change.

I went home very, very happy and wild to own the DVD (soon!) and see TT.