“Justice League” screened pre-release

Excited students pack Strosacker for unexpected showing

On a rainy Wednesday night in the middle of November, students and community members packed into Strosacker Auditorium on the Main Quad. But this was no class lecture.

Instead the audience sat eager waiting to watch a free, early screening of “Justice League,” two days before its official release. Some arrived so early, they sat waiting for almost an hour before the movie began.

The advanced screening was organized by the Case Western Reserve University Film Society. Doors opened at 6:15 p.m., but fifteen minutes later,

the main room of the auditorium was already crowded with fans and students. When the film was about to begin, there was hardly an empty seat on the ground floor.

The excitement in Strosacker was audible, and the audience could barely keep quiet during the customary Film Society announcements. Trailers for the upcoming weekend’s movies played before the film, and concessions were sold at the stand between the auditorium and the lobby.

Excluding the day of the week and the movie itself, the screening was run with the same traditions incorporated in any other Film Society screening.

However, there were two major differences due to a sponsorship by Abercrombie & Fitch. One was the raffle that occurred during the announcements, where an audience member won a $50 gift card for the company’s stores. The other was the two commercials for the company that played with the trailers.

Given the free tickets, the commercials—dramatic messages of carpe diem—caused the audience to break out in surprised laughter, and didn’t detract from the experience.

The film began, and the noise died away almost instantaneously as the dramatic score characteristic of DC superhero movies began to play. “Justice League,” the fifth movie in the DC Extended Universe, brought together the comic empire’s main heroes on the big screen for the first time. A few months after the death of Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) joined by Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), Cyborg/Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) and the Flash/Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) came together to defend the Earth from another alien invasion, this time led by Steppenwolf, servant of Darkseid. The film maintained a more lighthearted tone in comparison to the previous installments, especially through Miller’s performance and lines. The intense scenes made up of Computer-generated imagery (CGI)—a staple of movies in the universe—were ever-present, but this time around the heroes, Aquaman and Flash in particular, were also made up through the effects.

The film itself was a great experience for most of the attendees. The audience chatted loudly about the film as they exited Strosacker.

Film Society only found out that the event was definitely occurring about a month earlier, when they were approached by Hogan Communications, a marketing firm that specializes in college campuses.

The organization’s members had heard whispers that something may be happening, but did not know for sure until that email.

“They reached out to us, [saying] ‘… do you want to have this advanced screening of ‘Justice League’,” said Ashley Watts, one of the directors of Film Society. “Abercrombie and Fitch is sponsoring, so you would just show it for free in your theater. And obviously, we said yes.”

The firm provided materials for the event, including passes to the screening for Film Society to distribute and many of the promotional materials, like flyers to post around campus and posters to hang up. They even provided posters of the film for attendees to take home after the movie.

“I found out about it when I saw the flyer in Mather Quad last week,” said third-year student Abigail Moss. “I was really excited.”

Despite being a relatively small school in Northeast Ohio, this is the second time that Case Western Reserve University had the opportunity to host pre-screenings of superhero movies. CWRU alumni Joe and Anthony Russo brought Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” to campus in May 2016.

While the organizers of “Civil War” handed out a limited number of tickets solely to students, Film Society was given 800 passes to hand out, and ended up distributing about 400. They set up a table in the atrium of the Thwing Center in the days leading up to the screening and the week before. Those interested also had the option of downloading passes onto their phone from a website set up by Hogan. No one watching the film paid for tickets.

“I was a little surprised when I found out it was going to be a free movie, and also a really popular one that hasn’t been released yet,” said second-year student Sruthi Venkatachalam. “I would definitely go to watch it again.”