What happened to EIGA SAI?

They started giving out the tickets when the gates opened, 30 minutes before the movie started at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 5. I’d been there since 2:30 p.m. and I was actually on the far end of the waiting line. I held the green slip for less than a minute before I handed it over to the cinema guard.

Tell me: where’s the efficiency in that?

I used to be a regular at Eiga Sai back in college, and a few years after that, when I was still living in Mandaluyong. Back then, we’d line up at the ticket counter and be served an hour at least before showtime. (It wasn’t always free, I remember once paying a pittance for the paper ticket.) But, I must say, this is a first for me, that I’d languish for nearly two hours just to get a ticket that I would then immediately surrender. What’s the point? They could’ve herded us straight from the line to the entrance, no need for that dang ticket, since we wouldn’t be keeping it for very long anyway. Since we’d be keeping a vigil at the lobby area.

There were small kids, old folks, and mostly college-age teens. I heard the complaint: “My stomach hurts, haven’t had lunch yet.” I could relate, since I’d gone straight from my home in the south of Manila to the cinema, expecting I could grab a bite after I got my ticket. I could’ve asked the girls behind me to watch my spot–but I’d already warned them I was saving a seat for a pal (he had a radio show and would be late), so they wouldn’t get pissed when he came in and sat next to me; I didn’t want to push my luck.

At 3:11 p.m., with more people still coming in, I decided to text my pal and tell him not to bother coming, because it would be unfair to all these other folks who had waited so long just so they could get in. That was around the same time the guards were telling the newest batch that they’d be lining up for the 7:30 p.m. show, because there were no more slots for the 4:30 p.m. show. I wouldn’t know; I didn’t see any tickets being handed out–how could they tell? There were too many heads bobbing for a decent headcount.

When I finally got in to the show, there were at least two lines of people maintaining the vigil, despite a few who had given up and left (and who could blame them?). My bet is the ones who got fed up will just look for the films online and watch them on their own time.

I know this is a freebie film fest, but given its popularity, they should’ve been prepared for the weekend crowd, and more to the point, I didn’t see the logic in withholding tickets when it would still serve the “first come, first served” policy if they gave them out. The guards wouldn’t have to crowd-control because there wouldn’t be a holdup, the crowd will thin out, and everyone would accomplish other things in the mall. Really, the holding pen doesn’t serve any purpose except to waste time and space.

I can’t help but compare it to Cine Europa or the recent French Film Festival, where I made use of Sureseats.com to book my ticket. The slots ran out fast, but it was very much convenient. And I saw no disgruntled faces when I claimed my reserved seats at the counter. Thank you Ayala, for your efficiency.

Honestly, I’d pay to see these films on the big screen. This particular movie was sweet, sentimental, funny, and just on the edge of melodramatic. I enjoyed it. But the waiting beforehand? Epic fail. Please, just don’t let me go through waiting line hell again. Actually, no worries Eiga Sai, I guess this is goodbye.

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