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Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire New York City Premiere(?) Report (March 14, 2024)

 By Paul Rudoff on Mar. 16, 2024 at 10:00 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire
Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

On Thursday March 14, 2024, I (Paul Rudoff) attended what was advertised to me as the "world premiere" of Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire in New York City. The movie will be in theaters on March 22nd (buy tickets here), but I'd like to share with you my report on what I experienced, which felt nothing like my experience at the Afterlife premiere.

In late February, I received an e-mail from Ghost Corps inviting me to the "movie premiere" on March 14, 2024 at the AMC theater located at 1998 Broadway in New York City. The flyer below (left) was attached to the e-mail. (The image on the right is the ticket I received at the event.) In the hope that there would be a New York premiere, and that I would be invited to it, I had been saving up $250 for transportation, food, and theater merch. About $40 of that was also used to buy a second copy of the Empire "Mini Pufts in Coffee Mug" subscribers cover magazine, with the intention of having all of the white space on the cover filled with autographs by the movie's stars and director.

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I arrived at Penn Station around 5:30 PM and grabbed a taxi to 55 Central Park West, which is just a few blocks away from the theater. The traffic was the most brutal I have ever seen, though maybe it's normal for New York City. It took almost 30 minutes just to get from Penn to Spook Central. Since taxis charge per the time it takes to reach the destination, not based on the length of the trip (as they do here on Long Island), the trip cost me $35.50. Coming back at 10:45 PM, the same trip cost $24.20, as traffic was moving a lot better, and it only took about 10-15 minutes. To give you an idea as to how high prices have gotten in two years and four months, in November 2021, it only cost me $12.30 going, and $13.80 coming back for the taxis. The train fares in 2021 and 2024 were nearly the same.

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After visiting Spook Central, I walked over to the theater and saw a long white tent with the frozen No Ghost logo over the entrance and the Ecto-1 parked in front.

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I assume that this tent housed the "red carpet", but I can't personally confirm that because I never got to actually see anything that resembled a "movie premiere". So, for all I know, this could have been a shelter for the homeless. Very well-dressed homeless, who were standing where I (and other Ghostheads) stood in 2021.

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Opposite this tent was the main entrance to the theater. Right inside the lobby I spied a group of Ghostbusters fans who were corralled into a pen like cattle at the slaughterhouse. Maybe AMC rounded them up to be the main ingredient in Soylent Green; the newest flavor of ICEE.

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The side entrance on West 68th Street is where I, and the others in Group B (as I call them), were waiting to get in to the theater. (The New Jersey fan group's Ectomobile was parked there.) The way this event was organized, all Ghostheads were not created equal. We were broken into three groups. Group A were the ones who were invited by Ghost Corps to a "movie premiere" and actually got to do that. Group B were the ones who were invited by Ghost Corps to a "movie premiere", but only got to see the movie itself. Group C didn't get an invite at all, and were there to pick up the "table scraps"; the unclaimed tickets from the other two groups. I really hope that the fans in Groups B & C who traveled from great distances away were able to take part in other things the City has to offer, such as the festivities at the firehouse in the morning. I would hate to think that they paid a lot of money and time in transit, just to feel less appreciated than Group A. No one should be made to feel "less than".

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After picking up my ticket from the reception area (above photo), I took the escalator up to the second floor of the theater. Halfway up, I was greeted by a HUGE backlit Frozen Empire poster. This is where an Afterlife poster was placed back in 2021. In 2021, Group A saw the movie with the celebrities in an auditorium on the third floor. This year, Group B were housed by themselves in an auditorium(s) on the second floor, in the area seen in the distance in the photo below.

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Opposite the entrance to auditoriums #1 through #8 was one of those lenticular Frozen Empire standees.

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The concession stand in this cluster of auditoriums is where I used some of the $250 I saved up for this trip to buy some of the new Frozen Empire theater merchandise, which I will detail/review at the end of this report. I may have went a little overboard, or AMC charges way too much, because I had no money left to buy food with. When you have a low income, sometimes you have to sacrifice in order to get that shiny new toy that everyone else can afford so easily.

Right outside the entrance to auditorium #4, the AMC staff handed out complimentary bags of popcorn, bottled beverages (I took two Diet Cokes), and a small ICEE frozen beverage. They had all three Frozen Empire flavors: Boo Raspberry, Red-1/Cherry-1, and Mischievous Mini-Pufts. I chose the latter, which was marshmallow flavor. I also grabbed an unused empty ICEE cup to keep for my collection. The cups feature the ICEE polar bear mascot in a Ghostbusters jumpsuit.

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Inside the theater I found my seat - Row K, Seat 21 - and, FUCK, was it bad. I was literally right against the left-side wall in the most uncomfortable seat possible. This is not one of those theaters with the big recliner seats. Furthermore, at this point in time, I was weighed-down with two bags of merch that I would not want to leave unattended. Getting out was not an option. (That sounds like the tagline to a crime drama.)

The photo below shows my view of the screen. The view wasn't as bad as the seat, thankfully.

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The movie was supposed to start at 7:30 PM. It did not. No one ever came out to tell us why. I joked to my seatmates that it was because they forgot to set the clock ahead an hour for Daylight Savings Time at the beginning of the week. I heard that it was because Bill Murray came late to the red carpet. I heard through the slimeline that the celebrities were still on the red carpet at 8:05 PM.

Around 8:30 PM, Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan came in and gave a very brief speech, and then the movie started. These were the only celebrities that everyone in Group B intentionally saw. I filmed the speech on my phone, but the video is lost. That figures. The only thing about this event that had a sliver of feeling like a movie premiere, and I don't have any record of it. The photo below is courtesy of Chris J. Sorrentino. (Thanks, Chris)

The insulting part of this one-hour delay is that it didn't need to happen, Since none of the celebrities were going to be a part of the Group B experience, other than Jason and Gil coming out to do the intro, there was no reason why the movie couldn't have still started at 7:30 PM. Jason and Gil could have quickly popped in at 7:30 PM, gave their brief speech, then went back down to the red carpet at the actual movie premiere that we were not a part of. All of us in Group B could have begun watching the film while the rich and famous had their fun outside. Have I mentioned how it doesn't feel good to be made to feel "less than"?

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By 10:30 PM, the movie was over. I saw Logan Kim exiting the Men's room as I was entering, and members of Atarashii Gakko (the Japanese girl group who did the weirdly mesmerizing Frozen Summer music video) were hanging around in the lobby as I exited the Men's room. They were the only celebrities I saw. This experience was more akin to going to a fan gathering than a movie premiere.

The cute Atarashii Gakko girl with the curly hair didn't understand me when I asked if I could take a photo of her and the other girls, so the photo below isn't very good. Again, the only photo I have of a celebrity at the event didn't come out very well. I'm starting to sense a trend here.

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I am really disappointed with the way Sony organized this event. There shouldn't have been A, B, and C groups. There should have just been ONE group. All Ghostheads should have had the same experience; that being the feeling of actually attending a movie premiere. We are the ones who kept this franchise alive for the past 40 years. For several decades, Sony couldn't have cared less about Ghostbusters. What Sony released in 2016 shows how much it thought of Ghostbusters. ALL fans who were "invited" - be they someone like me, who has devoted nearly THREE DECADES in service to Ghostbusters, or someone who hasn't even been alive for three decades - should have been given the same treatment.

Even though Ghost Corps invited me to the "Premiere", what I actually attended was an "Advance Screening". Although there was no cost for the movie ticket and some concessions (bag of popcorn, two bottles of Diet Coke, small ICEE), it was not free. I paid about $73 in transportation costs round-trip, which is a lot when you have a low income. Aside from a brief intro by Jason and Gil, my experience would have been exactly the same had I attended a showing a week later at a local AMC theater. Actually, it would have been a better experience as it would have cost me less than $73, I wouldn't have spent 90 minutes in transit, and the movie would have started on time. In 2021, I actually felt like I was at a movie premiere. This time, I felt like an afterthought.

UPDATE (3/25/2024) - As if the experience itself didn't leave me feeling depressed enough, I just stumbled across something that makes me feel even worse. JD Raimer posted a photo of the Empire "Mini Pufts in Coffee Mug" magazine that he got autographed by 11 of the film's cast and crew at the premiere. I spent about $40 buying an extra copy of this exact magazine specifically to accomplish what JD did, not knowing that I would never meet any of the movie's stars because I was put in the "afterthought" group.

The poor experience I had at the theater wasn't even the worst part. It's what I had to endure from others in the online Ghostbusters "fan" community, because I had the gall to complain about feeling that my experience was poor compared to that of my peers. After the online bullying that I went through, I don't know if this is a community and a franchise that I want to be a part of for much longer. I have given more than half of my life in service to Ghostbusters, spending more time working on Spook Central than I have in all of the "real" jobs I've ever had. Yet, I am not treated equally with my peers because Spook Central contains written content, which isn't deemed as important as videos and podcasts. Apparently, being a historian, curator, and archivist of Ghostbusters history for nearly three decades is far less respectable than wearing a Ghostbusters costume year-round. Although longevity seems to mean nothing in this fandom, I'll try to keep Spook Central going for another two years, so I can reach the 30-year milestone in August 2026, then I may close up shop.

For those who are interested, the Sony press site was updated with lots of photos (VIP-Exclusive: zipped collection) and videos (original .mov file downloads) from the actual movie premiere. Man, it makes me really depressed to look at them because they do NOT represent what I personally experienced. The "movie premiere" seen in these photos and videos might as well have happened on the other side of the country.

Finally, I had enough money left (after transportation costs and buying that Empire magazine I'd never get signed) to spend about $138 (with New York tax) on some of the Ghostbusters theater merch. I don't normally spend that much, because I don't usually have that much to spend, but I wanted some sort of positive "souvenir" of this event.

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$14.99 - 7" Mini Puft Plush: Smores
$14.99 - 7" Mini Puft Plush: 3D Glasses
$13.99 - Funko Pop #1507: Phoebe Spengler
$13.99 - Funko Pop #1509: Pukey
$13.99 - Funko Pop #1510: Ray Stantz
$13.99 - Funko Pop #1511: Garraka
$39.99 - Ghostbusters Ghost Trap 130oz Popcorn Container

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The Ghost Trap Popcorn Container only lights up. It doesn't make sounds, nor is the purple cone removable, though you can turn many of the knobs (they don't actually do anything). It has wheels on the bottom, which is where you will find the on/off switch and the battery compartment (it uses three disc batteries). The trap has a bit of a "cheap" feeling in terms of weight and "toy"-ness. Also, when sold at the theater, it does not come in a box, like shown on the AMC Merch website.

From what I've read, Regal Theaters has a better and cheaper Ghost Trap Popcorn Bucket. It's only $25 and has lights AND sounds, and doors that open and close because there isn't an irremovable purple cone attached to it.

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