D23 members got a special treat this last week! Gold members were given the opportunity to attend a complimentary pre-release screening of Disney's latest movie, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Which is a courtesy long overdue considering that, for the last 3 years, a Gold membership ($80-$105) hasn't gotten you much more than the Standard membership (free) besides the obligatory 4 magazines a year and a yearly gift set of a bunch of badly printed reproductions of various Disney documents, drawings, memorabilia, etc. The yearly gift is neat, but definitely not worth $100. But I digress, we were really excited to see that we would get another opportunity to see a new Disney movie with other self-professed Disney addicts.
Now, a D23 complimentary pre-release movie event is not something that is put on by the theater. D23 organizers actually rent out the theater to show off the new movie. So it's not immediately clear who is truly in charge, but it generally comes down to a mix of the D23 organizers and the managers of the movie theater, not even the general employees of the movie theater seem to be "in-the-know". First, there was nothing given out at the event to commemorate the movie. Usually D23 has a special pin printed out with D23 and the event being celebrated. For the Fanniversary showings of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus, they had mini pins with the characters from the movies, and for the Maleficent showing back in 2014 there was an announcement for the Disney Infinity game and we got a bunch of Disney Infinity promo stuff. The theater didn't even have the big 3D movie display in a spot where you could get a decent photo! And it gets worse, we're first told to pile into a small theater in a tiny nook of the building, which couldn't help but make you feel like they were trying to hide the fact that we were seeing a free movie. After sufficient time to become spread out and comfortable, we were informed that the theater we were currently in was having troubles with setting up the movie and that we would need to move to another theater on the complete opposite side of the building. So, instead of the movie starting at 4:00 pm, we were gathering up our snacks and belongings and paraded across the building to another theater. Which turned out to be a good thing! The new theater was larger and featured Enhanced XD (which was really just a slightly larger screen). They had barely opened the doors and a dozen people filed in before the lights dimmed and the film started rolling! (Apparently their little glitch had now put all of the other movies showing in that theater behind schedule!) Needless to say we all rushed to the closest seat and prepared to be thrust into the story. To top it all off, about 15 minutes into the movie the sound cut out completely, and then reverted back to the preview ads from before the movie started! After a few minutes of experiencing what it must have been like to go to the movies in the 1930's, the sound was restored and the film rewound to the vicinity of where we left off, of course we will have to go and see the movie again to fill in those missing seconds...minutes? Eventually all of the challenges with our showing were fixed and we got to watch, in my opinion, a great movie. There was singing, dancing, a villain, a princess, and a twist at the end; everything you could want in a great Disney movie! Stop reading here if you have not seen The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, spoilers to follow.