Originally Posted by TeamBoone
According to the article, they weren't in the wrong theater; the correct theater showed the wrong movie.
When I was working as a projectionist while home from college during the summers, I did this once.
Often, a multiplex will split a theater into day-night showings. In the daytime, a kids movie or family movie will play while, at night, the same house shows a more adult feature. Both films are labeled on the reel and its the projectionist's job to make sure that the proper film is threaded up and ready to show when the timer kicks in on that particular theater.
Most multiplexes use a similar projector setup where the films are "built" from the individual little reels (like the ones they talked about in "Fight Club") into one giant reel of film and placed onto a large platter that feeds into the projector -- eliminating the need for someone to change reels during the movie. These projectors have 3 platters - one for the film being shown, one for the film to be "rewound" to as it plays, and a third platter where you can put another movie that is splitting time in that particular theater.
Well, if you let your mind wander while going through the 15-20 theaters threading projectors and setting timers for show starts, sometimes you can accidentally thread the wrong movie (since both look almost identical, save for the scotch-tape written label on the tail of the film), set the timer, and not even known that the wrong movie has started until someone comes out to complain that their movie is wrong. You'll be merrily away on the other side of the projection both setting up another film and get a call over the radio that you screwed up. Doubling the "doh" factor is the fact that you're working with a giant reel of film and can't just stop it like a DVD and pop the other one in. You've got to either cut the film, and store it aside until you can reconnect the unshown part to the shown part and run it through the machine to re-spool it for another showing, or you've got to "fast-forward" the entire film through the system to get it back to a single reel and free up the machine to show the correct movie.
Anyway -- when I was working, there was a house splitting between "The Wild Thornberries" movie and "The Divine Secret of the Ya Ya Sisterhood" -- one a kiddie flick and the other a chick flick. I accidentally threaded up the cartoon and showed 30 minutes of that to a theater filled with middle-aged women looking for an uplifiting story about divine secrets and sisterhood. Someone finally complained and we had to comp everyone to the next showing. Hell hath no fury...