With the release of “Transformers: The Last Knight”, the fifth installment in the series, I thought I’d reflect on the night I saw the third chapter, 2011’s “Dark of the Moon”:
I was in Chicago taping segments for the late Roger Ebert’s “Ebert Presents At the Movies” revival on PBS. I had already met Roger and his wife Chaz at their home on an incredible Sunday evening.
Monday night, June 27th, was the Chicago screening of “Transformers 3” at a local AMC theater. “T3” was filmed in Chicago (digitally destroying the city), so there was plenty of buzz and hype in Chi-town surrounding the film’s release. When Paramount made a last-minute announcement and decided to move-up the film’s release from Wednesday the 29th to Tuesday the 28th, it was too late for this screening to be moved to an earlier date.
I got to the theater fairly early, just to make sure I was at the right place and on the press list. Well, turns out I was one of the first few there. After check-in, the reps had to go take care of something – and I and a couple others joined them as they went to the auditorium where the movie was supposed to be shown.
The key that needed to be used in order to unlock the movie in the projector wasn’t working. The reps soon found out that it would work for another projector in a different auditorium. But the screening was only about an hour away. So they, and the theater managers, knocked on the door of the other auditorium and kicked out the families currently in the middle of watching “Cars 2”. Vouchers for free tickets were given to them, but they were not happy.
So now I was ready for “Transformers 3” in a different auditorium. More people (critics and regular moviegoers) started coming in. I talked and got a picture with Richard Roeper. Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune was also there, along with “Ebert Presents” co-hosts Ignaity Vishnevetsky and Christy Lemire. And coming-in closer to showtime were Roger and Chaz.
The screening was supposed to start at 7:30. But because of the last-minute auditorium change, the AMC theater needed to be granted verbal permission from Paramount in order to show it in a different room. Well, this ended-up taking more than an hour, which angered many of the critics who were there, including Phillips, because they needed to get their reviews into their editors by Midnight in order to make tomorrow’s paper. “T3” didn’t start until close to 9:00, and with a running time of two and a half hours, it didn’t end until about 11:30.
Roger Ebert gave “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” One Star.