By Dana Harris | Indiewire January 16, 2012 at 5:59PM
Technically, this video is piracy. But never before has piracy been to such a noble use.
On January 14, "Hugo" moviegoers were treated to a 3 1/2-hour comedy of errors at the Regal Theater in Union Square. The evening included the film breaking twice (and apparently, long delays before anyone noticed) before, in the coup de grâce, the film started again with Regal advertising superimposed over the film's climactic scene. The result is the finest misbegotten movie mashup since "The Dueling Cavalier."
As Ben Kingsley delivers a heartfelt address, praising Hugo Cabret as "a brave young man who saw a broken machine," that's exactly what the 21st audience is experiencing -- in 3D, no less! -- as they're treated to superimposed images of cell phones, ads telling you how fabulous it is to have a movie night out, animated candy bars and popcorn buckets, and finally, what appear to be breakdancing robots and chipmunks.
The pirate-tipster told Gothamist:
The approximate 200 people in the theater were offered refunds and free tickets by management, but many were so exasperated at the three-and-a-half hour experience, they left well before they were handed out: "When the movie was over people were really pissed, the managers were standing outside handing out passes and apologizing but after going through all that to get to the end of the movie and to have that happen was surreal."
Mostly, the tipster was angry that there was nobody there to watch over the film when it initially broke: "Tickets were $18 for this movie. Regal deserves to get shit for it. Maybe they can actually start putting projectionists in the booth."
To be clear, that is one hell of a crappy theater experience; it's the sort of thing that makes all the hand-wringing over declining attendance a moot point. And the irony of it happening to a film that's a love poem to the magic of moviemaking, and of the movie-watching experience -- well, if you made a movie about this, no one would believe you. Unless, of course, you saw it on YouTube.
We've reached out to Regal and to Scorsese's reps for comment. In the meantime, here's the funniest comedy that Martin Scorsese never made.