December 30, 2009 ~ 09:33pm
A few days before Christmas I decided to watch Avatar with my brothers. I don't visit theaters often, so I thought it would be fun to watch it in IMAX 3D (based on great past experience). Considering it was the holiday season with more crowds the box office, I opted to purchase tickets online for a reserved seating show (a first for me). For security, I used a temporary credit card number (like I always do) and printed my confirmation/receipt and went to the theater a few hours later. I didn't think much of it.
At the Showcase Cinemas I waited in line to get my physical tickets and was told that they could not give them to me unless I had the actual credit card with me. So, like any place, I had to talk to the manager. He politely informed me that my confirmation number is inadequate (useless) and he "can't release the tickets from the system". He could not even cancel the seats which were already paid and re-issue them. The system does not provide for that feature. Before he let us pass and get our seats, he asked me to call back later and provide the credit card number. Apparently, that is the only way the theater can actually get paid for the tickets that technically movietickets.com sold me. I agreed and saw the movie.
About the movie, quick synopsis: Attractive blue monkey-tigers in a computer generated paradise world who mind meld their appendages with nature have to fight off stereo-typical technologically advanced civilized people-soldier-strip-miners with the help of a crippled former soldier psychically connected to an artificial monkey-man hybrid which is known as an Avatar. Basically the plot of Furngully: The Last Rainforest redone by the guy who did Terminator 2 and Titanic (with the stuffings). Really good stuff really, however unoriginal. The animation was gorgeous. The only let down was the IMAX 3D did not even come close to exploiting its full potential. Fun and exciting movie nonetheless.
The great irony for me: the movie's theme was clearly anti-technology. I think the blue monkey's mother deity glow stick willow tree was trying to tell me something: pay in cash you moron. I got the message.
When I got back to my computer, I debated whether I should call back. Economically the theater chain should take a hit and fix their broken system they have with their sales and marketing partners. Why should I be punished for being responsible for my online security? But alas, its Christmas dontchaknow, so I called back with the number. On the receiving line the clerk basically said people forget their cards all the time. So no major worry for me. Hmmm.
The moral of the story is: you can't trust the system.