“Hey Dan! Did you go to the theater this weekend to see the new Harry Potter Movie; “The Chamber of Secrets”?”
“Yeah, I sure did Greg! Did you go to the theater too?”
“Which day did you go?”
“Wow! You saw the movie twice!?!”
“No. I didn’t see it. As a matter of fact, I did not see any movies.”
“Ok, I am confused. So, you went to the theater both days and did not see any movies; right?”
“I was playing the Harry Potter TCG in the lobby!”
“Wow! How did that happen? Tell me about it.”
About two months ago, I got this idea about playing the Harry Potter TCG in the lobby of my local theater the first weekend of the release of the “Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets” movie. I talked about it to various members of my league and with Lockhart and Aardvark. Everyone thought it was a good idea. Now I had to make it happen.
The whole idea here was to expose a lot of folks to the Harry Potter TCG. This was a captive audience and one that looked on Harry Potter stuff favorably. This would be a great opportunity to get more players into the local league scene.
First thing to do, was get the theater on board; no easy task. The theater in question was the United Artists Theater in Columbia Maryland. United Artists is a division of Regal Entertainment. I called the theater the first week of November and talked to an assistant manager. Jen was very receptive to my idea but that I would have to talk to the general manager. I went to the theater on the 7th to talk to Jeff the general manager. He thought that this would be a great idea.
Next, I needed some supplies. I talked to the Wizards of the Coast store that I helped run the league from. I wanted all of the extra posters and some of the promo cards. The manager said he would have given to me if he had them. He had tossed them since the league was over, they would get new stuff in January for second year of HP league, and that they were getting ready for a Wizards bigwig. Darn! The Arundel Mills WOTC store did not have theirs either! My last hope was the WOTC store in Owings Mill Mall. I spoke to Chris at that store and sure enough; he had the supplies. I told him what I was doing and he was happy to let me have the stuff. He was planning on getting rid of it! Thanks Chris!
Now I needed help with playing the card game. My idea was to use the kids in the league to teach the kids going to the movie the game. I thought that others would want to play the game more if one of their peers showed them how verses an adult. Here is how it went.
I arrived at the theater at 11AM to set up. I had two tables and lots of cards and posters. There was room for four games going on at once. I brought my daughter Amanda (9) with me and was meeting Zack & Sid (both 11) there. I did not get the tables set up before we had folks buzzing around the tables asking questions. 20 minutes later the movie let in and the lobby was deserted. This “cycle” went on for the rest of the day with large down times. After awhile, the kids got bored. Amanda left after 2 hours and was replaced by her brother, Neil (11). Both Sid & Zack left at 2PM. I folded shop at 5:30PM. I had intended to stay until 9PM, but I was not getting as much traffic as I had hoped for and my son wanted to go home.
I was somewhat disappointed with the day. I think that I will see three people at league from this day. The kids played the game and then went to see the movie. After the movie, they came out and sat right back down and played the game again!
I again arrived at the theater at 11AM. I again had my daughter Amanda with me. We were meeting Shawn Fournier (adult). who was going to stay until 5PM and Sid. The only big difference was that both Amanda and Shawn were in costume, Amanda as Hermione and Shawn as a young Dumbledore. The day started much the same as Saturday. However, the gap between crowds was less and the enthusiasm among the crowd was much greater. Many more people came to the table, many more played and many more liked the game. I started to field many questions from parents about the game, about where to get cards, about where to get information (POJO.com of course!), and where to play. At about 2PM Sid left and Aardvark and his son Dan (11) showed up.
The crowds really liked the “Dressed-up” “kids” and responded well. They would walk around the theater handing out league promo cards and telling people about the game. They sent many more people over to the game tables than not having them on Saturday. A lot of kids again played the game, then went in to see the movie and then came out and played again. Sunday was a very successful day in terms of the number of people who expressed an avid interest in the card game.
My goal was to generate more interest in a game that I love to play and that I want to stick around for some time to come. I think I did what I set out to do. I will only be able to tell in January when the league should start up again. I expect that the league will see an influx of between 10 and 20 new members because of this effort. So what did I get out of it? I spent my weekend playing cards and building support for a great game.
I want to thank the two managers at the Regal Entertainment United Artists Snowden River Parkway Movie Theater (#1310) for letting me entertain the crowds as they waited to see the Harry Potter movie. It was a great opportunity. Thank you Jeff & Jen.
Thanks to the WOTC manager Chris in Owings Mills Mall that gave me the materials from the league that made this work. I could not have done it without you.
Thanks to the league members that helped out.
Zack and his parents who drove him to the event!
Sid who came both days and had as much fun playing as he had in giving promo cards away!
Shawn Fournier for coming in costume and bringing his enthusiasm! I also would like to thank his boss who let him off on Sunday to do the demonstration.
To my brother (Aardvark) and his son Dan. You guys came at the right time on the best day. You made a good situation better.
Lastly, to my family, thanks. I know this was not an easy thing to do, but it turned out great. Both Amanda & Neil were great. I promised the whole family a date to see the movie (which we did Monday).