At least one theater chain is stepping up to sincerely apologize to fans inconvenienced by the Monday night’s widespread Star Wars: The Force Awakens ticketing system meltdown.
The Texas-based multi-state Alamo Drafthouse theater chain issued a detailed mea culpa Tuesday taking responsibility for their servers giving fans “database error” messages for at least several hours as fans tried to purchase advance tickets for the eagerly awaited new film, which is widely released Dec. 18.
“Last night, we had the single biggest simultaneous surge for movie tickets our industry has ever seen,” wrote Alamo CEO Tim League. “The great news is that Star Wars fandom is as strong as ever. Unfortunately, that surge exposed weaknesses in our ticketing infrastructure, and that of Fandango, Regal, AMC and Cinemark, not to mention other exhibitors across the globe who also crashed. But that is not a good enough excuse. The Alamo Drafthouse has been preparing for this hugely important day for the past nine months, and we thought we were ready. We spun up 40 simultaneous servers and were monitoring the load to instantaneously add more if needed. We hosted our static pages in a state-of-the-art cloud environment that could also instantaneously expand with demand. The massive onslaught of simultaneous users, however, exposed an unforeseen flaw in the ticketing infrastructure itself that we were unable to fix on the fly.”
Continued League: “We tried to be ready for this hugely important day, and we missed the mark. In the moment, we tried to react as quickly as possible. We transitioned our sales to Fandango as soon as they were up and running again themselves. We apologize for making what was supposed to be a joyous day a big hassle for Star Wars fans. We commit to doing better in the future.”
We’ll be curious to see if the other theater chains say anything now that fan-friendly Alamo has stepped up.
Interestingly, the ticketing fiasco had a rather curious side effect: Fans long accustomed to buying all their tickets online actually walked to theater box offices to purchase tickets in person. And they weren’t too happy about it.
CBS Interactive editorial director Glenn Gaslin posted on Facebook about having to trek to an Arclight theater in Culver City, California. “Had to physically walk into a theater. To buy tickets for a movie two months from now. #theinternetisdumb.”
While Alamo buyers took to Reddit to relay similar experinences. “Girlfriend literally drove to Village [theater] to buy tickets,” marveled one fan. “While I sat at home hitting refresh and cursing Drafthouse, Chrome, Apple and everything under the sun.”
Of course, fans used to wait in line for days to get tickets for the latest Star Wars film, and nowadays advance ticketing at chains like Alamo and Arclight give fans their choice of seats so fans don’t even need to show up early the day of the actual show.