Deadpool, Cineworld and the bizarre entitlement of cinema secret screenings

Ryan Reynolds as wise-cracking Marvel antihero Deadpool
Ryan Reynolds as wise-cracking Marvel antihero Deadpool

Tonight, hundreds of people across the UK saw burning anticipation turn into crushing disappointment in a single instant. They were all about to watch Triple 9 – John Hillcoat’s new thriller. Almost all of them, however, were certain that they were about to get an early glimpse of Deadpool.

These people were Cineworld Unlimited Card holders and they were attending “secret screenings”. In these screenings, customers book a seat without knowing what they are about to see. This initiative is also popular with ODEON in the UK, who run their “Screen Unseen” events once a month.

In this case, it would be fair to say that people were incredibly unhappy as a result of tonight’s screening.

Social media was ablaze with bizarre fury from people who had signed up to see a film for free and were subsequently angry that they hadn’t been allowed to see one of the year’s most highly-anticipated movies hours before the review embargo was lifted. Apparently logic wasn’t exactly in abundance.

The social media chaos was treated with a mixture of carefree trolling and slight disdain by the people behind the Cineworld Twitter feed. It’s as if they didn’t know how to deal with people complaining that they had been given different free stuff to the free stuff they wanted.

As one Twitter user stated, the Deadpool controversy said rather more about our culture than it did about people’s views on a Hillcoat actioner that has attracted middling reactions.

This isn’t even the first time that the Cineworld secret screenings have angered fans. Back in December, the chain showed In the Heart of the Sea at a screening that took place around a week before the release of Star Wars. There were walkouts from fans who had made up their minds and weren’t going to take anything other than Harrison Ford at the helm of a spaceship.

The same is true of ODEON Screen Unseen. The depressing prejudice towards animated cinema led to people walking out the door when the multiplex showed Inside Out last year and once clues began to point to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl in August, plenty of people loudly opted not to attend.

There’s an inherent risk to these events, but that is part of the fun. The sense of mystery is what makes these secret screenings work and it’s ridiculous to complain when the film isn’t what you want it to be. This is particularly true if the film you want to see, like Deadpool, is out within a week anyway.

Secret screenings can be a way to experience films that would not have otherwise been on your radar at all. They can broaden cinematic horizons and shine a light on gems that won’t get the major marketing push of something like Star Wars or Deadpool. That should be welcomed; not attacked.


Were you at the Cineworld secret screening? Were you disappointed not to see Deadpool? How do you feel about secret screenings in general? Let me know in the comments section.

2 thoughts on “Deadpool, Cineworld and the bizarre entitlement of cinema secret screenings

  • 26/03/2016 at 04:37

    I went to the Heart of the Sea screening. I was really pleased, they’d made it clear over again it was not Star Wars so I wasn’t expecting it and HotS was a good film.

    They always say it’s not the biggie but people hold out hope they’re lying.

    • 27/03/2016 at 16:54

      The Star Wars one was mind-boggling to me. Why would Disney give away the most anticipated film of all time for free?


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