Management at Classic Cinemas Charlestowne 18 in St. Charles tackled the midnight-show crowds a little differently for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1, and that suited audience members just fine, thank you.
Instead of allowing the lines to twist like Nagini through the mall's deathly hallows for hours before the show, management let early arrivals into the theaters and helped them find seats.
It seemed to work well.
The crowd—mostly high-school-aged kids and younger—was fun-loving and well-behaved. Most spent the hours before midnight chatting or texting or reading. A lot of the others—many wearing robes or maroon-and-gold scarves— floated around from seat to seat, standing in the aisles, or in the case about about a dozen or more teens, doing some weird Ninja circle Kibuki thing in front of the big screen.
People were excited, no doubt. You might have seen the quote in the "live from Charlestowne" story I posted last night.
"Oh, God, I think I'm going to see just beauty in motion, beauty personified. I've been here for like six hours waiting for the movie. It's going to be awesome," said Tezzy VonDerbrandt, 16, a student at St. Charles East.
Most of the kids thought the seating arrangement beat the hallway sit-ins hands down.
"I liked it," said Heather Delucia, a freshman at Geneva Community High School, who was in Theater No. 1 with her friend Michelle Geiser, a Williamsburg subdivision resident and also a freshman at GHS.
"I think it's a lot more relaxing," Michelle said. "We got our tickets a couple days before, and we got here at like 8 o'clock. I thought we were going to have to wait outside for a long time."
General Manager Randy Pollock lived up to his title, playing field general and managing the crowds with a staff we found to be cordial and plentiful.
I had never been to a midnight show before, so for all I know this is standing operating procedure. But I wanted to offer a quick thumbs up for a system that worked. It will be interesting to see how the theaters handle the crowds tonight—without the advantage of the open theaters to put the waiting audience.
Geneva editor's note: Tricia and I paid for our tickets in advance and got no special treatment Thursday night / Friday morning. There are no advertising dollars at stake here. I wrote this simply because I appreciated the orderliness—and I had all these leftover notes. :)