Instigating a Standing Ovation at the Furious Seven Premiere

Will a theater embrace an invitation to applaud?

Two years ago, my friend Meaghan and I really got into the Fast & Furious movies. We watched them all. At that time, the sixth movie was released and we saw it on opening night. The theatre was packed, and fully animated.

It was a fun film, the crowd loved it, and seemed poised to explode when the movie ended.... but they didn't. There was no applause. Applauding at a movie is ridiculous. The cast and crew can't hear you, so it is rarely done outside of kids movies and Hollywood premieres.

I was a little disappointed that the palpable energy of that crowd wasn't released at the end, and resolved to spark that ovation at the end of next movie, Fast & Furious 7.

Starting a Standing Ovation at Furious Seven Movie Opening

Two years later, after the untimely death of one of its stars, the Fast & Furious franchise had taken on a more serious tone. But I was determined to try my plan. I printed up some flyers.

Starting a Standing Ovation at Furious Seven Movie Opening

I planned to hand out "let's do a standing ovation" flyers in line at the theatre before the midnight opening.

In the years since I hatched this plan, midnight openings have been replaced by whole-day-before openings, so we had tickets to the 8pm showing on the night before the official opening.

I handed out the flyers in the theatre, moving among the seats. There wasn't an extraordinary number of fans seated before the movie started, so I was able to contact almost everyone.

"Hello. I'm trying to instigate a standing ovation at the end of the movie... if you are into it." I recited, handing them a flyer.

It was awkward. Would this work? Was I asking too much of these strangers? Was I improving the movie experience, or sabotaging it?

Starting a Standing Ovation at Furious Seven Movie Opening

I certainly changed the movie experience for myself. I wanted this to work, wanted to catch it on video, and didn't want to get caught with a video camera in the theater!

Halfway through, I took a bathroom break and saw this crowd massed to see a later showing.

Starting a Standing Ovation at Furious Seven Movie Opening

The movie was pretty hilarious, with novel action scenes and fun twists. At the end, there is a tribute to leading man Paul Walker.
Did the audience erupt in a standing ovation? No, not so much. Here's the video of the darkened theatre.


There was some applause, and I believe about 25 people stood up to cheer. It was not a success, but not a complete disaster.

Next time, I'll go later in the evening. The crowds seemed to peak after our 8 pm showing, and a full theater is much more likely to applaud at movie endings. I'd also try a movie which doesn't end on a somber note. Although the ending is triumphant and tasteful, it isn't joyful. Another tactic will be to sit up front. The more people who see us stand, the more likely they are to follow our example. I'll ask a friend to capture the moment on video, looking backwards towards the audience.

And hopefully the lighting will be better.