Ultimate Pirates Fan Event: The View from Boston (and Houston)

19 Mar

The young pirate is surprised

My family was lucky enough to win a few tickets to yesterday’s Ultimate Pirates Fan Event in Boston. As promised in the invitation, we were among the first to see the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds’ End, received some small bits of swag, and had the chance to win more POTC merchandise.

And because we’re part of such a great online community, we were able to hear from other fans attending the events in other cities as well, and some of them shared pictures of their pirate garb. Between this online connection and the conversations among fans at the event, it seems to me that Disney’s done a good job here at rallying the faithful. In fact, as great as the new trailer is, and as much fun as it was to watch POTC: The Black Pearl on the big screen, the vibe of the event and the interaction with other fans were a much bigger factor in our experience.

Mr Broke Hoedown (who took most of these pictures) reminds me that it’s hard to measure the impact of this sort of marketing. But for this fan and her young pirate, it certainly reminded us to keep our calendar clear for the May 25 release of the film, and hey, maybe even grab a few friends to come along dressed in their finest pirate garb.

When we arrived at the theater an hour before showtime, the lines were already long. There was a priority line for people dressed as pirates; we were given our swag and admitted to the theater before the landlubbers. Handed to us in line: a bandana, a lanyard/pass, and a folder advertising the new POTC online game (including both a beta test pass and numbered, limited-edition-of-10,000 concept art). Once we’d all settled into the theatre a number of prizes were given away. Some were given out based on birthday, but most were done as a free raffle. Christine Cappel attended the event in Houston, and was kind enough to share this picture of the booty she’d gathered, including not only the items I listed above but also a POTC hat that wasn’t available in Boston, and a figure she’d won.

POTC merchandise, photo by Christine Cappel

The atmosphere was very festive as we waited for the film to roll. Brief videos were shown advertising Pirates Online, POTC: At Worlds’ End video game, and Mega Bloks: Dead Man’s Blok. The Mega Bloks ad was a huge hit, and I’m glad I found it on YouTube so I can watch it again! They also showed stills from the movie, publicity photos we’d seen before, and an ad for Zizzle POTC toys.

Strangely, the theater was only about half-full. I have to wonder whether this was a failure in yield management; did event organizers simply not invite enough people for the available space? I’m aware of at least one Boston fan who desperately wanted to go, but did not receive an invitation after submitting her “contest entry.” Surely Disney wouldn’t have wanted to leave her sitting at home when there were plenty of seats. Was there a high no-show rate? Did her invitation get stuck in a spam filter somewhere? Did organizers not know theater capacity? I’d love to hear the backstory on this.

After the giveaways, there was a brief (canned, generic) video greeting from a few POTC stars, and then they rolled POTC: The Black Pearl, followed by yet another video greeting to preface the trailer, which they showed three times. The crowd cheered each time.

Young pirate aiming his weapon

As we all began to file out of the theater, my son listened to the conversations going on around us, then turned to me and explained that everyone had made new friends today. Paradoxically, it’s hard to be unfriendly when you’re dressed like a pirate.

If you attended this event in Boston or other cities, and would be willing to share their photos, please let me know! I’d love to collect a page of photos from all the cities that held Ultimate Fan Events.


One Response to “Ultimate Pirates Fan Event: The View from Boston (and Houston)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean marketing event « Collateral Damage - March 19, 2007

    […] CollateralDamage and Collateral Damage Jr. dress up like pirates. That’s always a good thing. Mrs. CD has a complete write up here. As far as the trailer goes: That movie is going to stink but it has Chow Yun Fat in and will make […]

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