Photo: user uploaded image

Movie Theater Mistakes That Were More Than Just A Little Bit Awkward

Almost every modern theater uses digital projectors where movies are stored on hard drives and controlled by a computer. However, just because things are mostly automated doesn’t mean there aren't the occasional movie theater mistakes. On the contrary, for many theaters and spectators, the blunders are monumental.

It wouldn’t be a big deal if you went to a movie expecting to see A Quiet Place and instead saw the beginning of Paranormal Activity 4. However, if you’re a parent taking your seven-year-old daughter to see the animated children’s movie Madagascar 3 and instead get the graphic opening scene of Paranormal Activity 4, then it becomes an egregious error with repercussions. 

It's no movie secret; theaters are run by humans, which means they sometimes mess up royally. On more than a few occasions operators either play a totally inappropriate trailer or fire up the wrong film altogether. As long as humans still have to control computers, there are going to be these kinds of mistakes. 

Photo: user uploaded image

  • One Theater Played The 'Hereditary' Trailer Before 'Peter Rabbit'

    One Theater Played The 'Hereditary' Trailer Before 'Peter Rabbit'
    Photo: Hereditary / A24

    In April 2018, several Australian school students and their parents got a scare they were not expecting. Australian schools close for a holiday called Anzac Day (which is sort of like Veteran's Day in the US). As expected, many parents brought their kids to a screening of Peter Rabbit to enjoy their day off. However, due to a mix-up at the theater, a trailer for the R-Rated horror movie Hereditary played for the Peter Rabbit audience.

    The trailer for Hereditary is not for the squeamish, one part includes a young child cutting a pigeon's neck with a pair of scissors. Several parents in the theater tried to get the projectionist to stop showing the trailer. "Parents were yelling at the projectionist to stop, covering their kids’ eyes and ears, some even fleeing the theater all together," one spectator explained. 

    Eventually the trailer cut off and the young audience got to watch Peter Rabbit. However, the damage had already been down. As an apology, the theater offered free movie tickets for a future event. However, the tickets expired that same day, which also did not go over very well. 

    “Don’t get me wrong, I understand mistakes happen. But surely there should be checks to make sure trailers like that don’t get shown. And the free passes thing just added insult to injury,” the spectator continued.

  • One Theater Played The Wrong 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' Movie Three Times In A Row

    In August 2014, audiences went to a Regal Cinema in Virginia to check out the summer blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy. However, there was a mix-up and instead of the Chris Pratt movie, the theater played the beginning of the 2012 children's animated fantasy Rise of the Guardians. The error was not initially a big deal, but then it happened again, and then a third time.

    All three times, the audience was forced to sit through an entire run of trailers. The same mistake also happened in New Jersey (hopefully not three times). As a mea culpa, Regal offered replacement tickets to the audiences. 

  • One Theater Played '50 Shades Freed' Instead Of 'Black Panther'

    What's the exact opposite of Marvel's superhero blockbuster Black Panther? How about a sexed-up, twisted romance targeted to middle-aged housewives? In February 2018 at a movie theater outside Atlanta, GA, audiences expecting to see Black Panther instead got the beginning of Fifty Shades Freed

    One spectator reported he just figured he was watching another preview when Fifty Shades Freed started to play. However, the audience quickly surmised the error and became rather rowdy. It took the theater about 10 minutes to fix the mistake, while the audience had to sit through the Greys' lavish, sexually-fueled honeymoon. 



  • One Theater Showed 'Nymphomaniac' Instead Of 'Frozen'

    In December 2013, a movie theater in Florida could not have made a more egregious error. Parents and young children expecting to see the animated movie Frozen, instead reportedly got the first few minutes of Danish director Lars Von Trier's controversial movie Nymphomaniac. The Shia LaBeouf starring film is lewd enough to warrant an NC-17 rating and may have even contained scenes where the actors actually have sex. 

    Some parents quickly rushed their kids out of the theater, while others attempted to cover their innocents' eyes as Von Trier's film continued to play. "It seemed like forever when you’re trying to, you know, cover a little guy’s eyes,” parent Lynee Greene stated. “I didn’t have enough hands to cover his ears too and he got the sound down real good.”

    The projectionist can be solely blamed for the error. The alleged story is they could not get Frozen to start, so in order to fill time they started to play "filler." Unfortunately, Nymphomaniac was probably not the best choice. The theater did offer an apology to those traumatized by way of free movie tickets. 



  • One Theater Played The 'Sausage Party' Trailer Before 'Finding Dory'

    Yes, Finding Dory and Sausage Party are both funny, animated movies. However, that is where the similarities end.

    In June 2016, a movie crowd in California, presumably filled with young audience members expecting to see Finding Dory, got a sneak peek at the trailer for the raunchy, R-Rated comedy Sausage Party. Of course, parents were none too happy and complained about the incident. Walt Eichinger, who is Vice President at Brenden Concord 14, claims the error only happened the one time and issued an apology:

    Playing that trailer was a one-time honest mistake by a theater manager moving screens around in effort to accommodate several large last-minute groups wanting to see Dory... The wrong movie was started by mistake. It was caught soon, but not until the trailer played. We regret it, apologize for it, and we are not happy that it happened. We fully realize this trailer is not appropriate for Dory and we would never schedule something like that. The trailer for Sausage Party is not and never has been scheduled with Dory.

  • One Theater Played 'Insidious 3' Instead Of 'Inside Out'

    In 2016, an Ohio audience expecting to see the Pixar movie Inside Out got a sneak peek at the horror movie Insidious: Chapter 3. One mother in the audience took to Facebook to publicly document her rage. 

    "I got our money back but the damage is already done… my children are terrified and keep asking questions," Jazmyn Moore posted.

    Insidious 3 reportedly only played for a brief period. However, the theater apologized for the incident. They also attempted to rectify their mistake by offering up refunds and the opportunity to see Inside Out in 3D.