Over the past week, Ian and I saw Solo twice in theaters. Once on Thursday (5/24) at the TCL Chinese Theater IMAX as part of a special event put on by the Scum and Villainy Cantina in Hollywood and once today (5/28) at our local Regal/Edwards Cinema.
**Solo: A Star Wars Story Spoilers Ahead**
Viewing the movie on Thursday was absolutely a different experience than at the local theater. At The Chinese, the room was filled with people that were “Hardcore” Fans. More than likely the fans that were able to catch the more obscure EU novel references and Easter Eggs that the more ‘Casual’ fan might not get. The audience was not afraid to gasp and cheer for their favorite parts throughout the film. The most obscure reference reveals would be followed by sporadic claps and muffled laughs from around the auditorium. It really was cool to see all the audience participation, intended by the film or not. The Maul reveal got the guy sitting next to me to nearly jump out of his seat (before the show, he was telling me how he has a Maul cosplay he busts out from time to time, I forgot your name man, I apologize).
I left the theater on a high. The movie wasn’t terrible. I enjoyed the heck out of a lot of it. There were some parts that I wasn’t too sure on, but overall, I enjoyed my time with the film. Ian and I spent the rest of the evening back at the Scum and Villainy discussing our feeling on the movie with other fans over drinks and Cheesy “AT-TOTS”. The general consensus I got from those I talked too; it was a good film, maybe not a great film, but fun and entertaining.
I had a day to decompress and think about Solo with the trappings and frills of a Star Wars Event held at a Star Wars themed bar, dressed as a Star Wars character. One day to rethink some scenes that caused me to hesitate in the theater and to re-evaluate the scenes I liked. Between hitting up Toys ‘R Us’ and Targets around Thousand Oaks, I was able to come to the same conclusion that I did at the end of Rogue One; it had some flaws, but I enjoyed it.
The following Saturday, we were back at the Scum and Villainy for a Steele Wars Live show. The panel of guests threw out some really good points on the pros and cons of the film. I was happy to see that dissenting opinions weren’t argued over unless the result would be comedy, but would then be talked about without hostility and with open minds. These conversations only helped to solidify how I felt about the film.
Time jump to today’s viewing. It was completely different. The audience was the casual audience one would expect on a Holiday Weekend. For this viewing, there was no audience participation save for a handful of chuckles from jokes. I saw a few people shake their heads at the Maul reveal (probably not knowing that he came back in the Clone Wars). The same references to the old EU that got huge responses to a few nights before, were responded to with silence from an audience that may not have realized what was happening.
It was a very strange 2 hour experience. I don’t know if it was the morning crowd (we went to an early showing so we could record a podcast with my roommate Mike) or if the jokes only worked for those more familiar with the franchises history. For awhile, the non-reaction of the crowd (compared to the premier) almost made re-re-evalute the film.
Going from a theater of hundreds applauding and cheering to a much more restrained audience was a very jarring experience and I can see how some of the negative reviews may have been affected by this sort of showing. I am going to need to see it again for good measure. I would like to wait a week or so and see how the crowd reaction after the hype settles down. I doubt it will affect how I feel about the film, but I am curious just how the average joe reacts to the film in the next couple weeks.
-Jon, in the Edit Bay
What was your experience like? Did your fellow movie goers get excited or did the movie play to a quite room? Let us know by leaving a comment below, sending us an email (HothPod@gmail.com) or tweeting us on on the Twitter @HothPod!