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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

July 21, 2009 at 9:56 AM

“Orphan” tonight — after dark

Many things are predictable about promo screenings, except for the one I’m attending tonight. Movies screen in advance in two ways: press-only screenings, which are generally in the daytime and have fewer than a dozen people attending (such as “Adam,” yesterday), or promo screenings, which are held in the evening for a full house of people who got free admission by getting passes from radio stations or movie clubs like The Warren Report. Promo screenings virtually always start at 7 p.m. and are at a big multiplex, most often Pacific Place, Meridian or Oak Tree. People line up sometimes hours beforehand, which has always struck me as kind of odd for anything other than a “Harry Potter”- or “Star Trek”-ish blockbuster. (Was it really worth spending a few hours to see, say, “Year One” early?) There’s usually security, with people getting frisked and sometimes having to surrender their cell phones. There’s usually at least one fight over a seat, such as somebody leaving a sweater on a seat and going to get popcorn, but returning to find the sweater tossed aside and somebody else sitting down. And, if you’re a member of the press sitting quietly with your book (brought due to the necessity of arriving half an hour early), there are often interesting conversations on which to eavesdrop. Not that I would ever do such a thing.
But tonight brings “Orphan,” a horror movie starring the promising duo of Peter Sarsgaard and Vera Farmiga. And it screens at 9 p.m., which means I’ll go home, eat dinner, hang out for a while, and then go back to work, so to speak. No idea why the studio is screening it so late in the evening; maybe they couldn’t get a theater earlier? Maybe they think horror movies go down better if it’s dark outside? Maybe they want the people who routinely line up at midafternoon to wait even longer? Maybe they want critics to have plenty of time for a full dinner (it’s hard to get much of a meal and still be on time for a 7pm screening) and consequently be sleepily agreeable? We’ll see.

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