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50 shades of preview hysteria

Cape Town. 120215. The eagerly awaited Fifty Shades of Grey, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Ana and Mr Grey at the pre screening event at Cavendish Square in Claremont. From left; Nazarine Rosenkowitz from Wynberg, Thato Gege from Planet Fitness and Desiree van Stavel from Avondale. Picture Leon Lestrade. Story Caryn Dolley.

Cape Town. 120215. The eagerly awaited Fifty Shades of Grey, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Ana and Mr Grey at the pre screening event at Cavendish Square in Claremont. From left; Nazarine Rosenkowitz from Wynberg, Thato Gege from Planet Fitness and Desiree van Stavel from Avondale. Picture Leon Lestrade. Story Caryn Dolley.

Published Feb 14, 2015

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Cape Town -

Excitement slowly mounted. The lights dimmed. A shrill squeal marked the moment.

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Then scores of expectant women were left hanging.

And in a scene reminiscent of recent shenanigans at Parliament, there was palpable frustration and a mass walkout.

Such is the power of Christian Grey, the steamy lead character in the erotic romance novel turned box office hit Fifty Shades of Grey.

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Demand to get an early peek of Grey in action at prescreenings of the movie on Thursday eventually overwhelmed supply.

Ster-Kinekor opened an extra cinema at all its sites across the country to accommodate fans, while a record-breaking more than 14 000 tickets were booked at Nu Metro for the prescreening.

The movie was officially released on Friday.

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Grey’s magnetism and the allure of Fifty Shades saw scores of women flocking to Cavendish Square late on Thursday for the prescreenings. And if hysteria was expected, hysteria there was: the foyer of the cinemas became a scene of breathless mayhem.

The smell of popcorn mingled with perfume, high-heels accidentally squished trendy sneakers and vice versa, women jostled trying to get near to the cinema entrances.

“I feel stressed out,” one moaned, balancing a big soft drink and a sparkly purse in one hand.

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Another hopped up and down as she laid eyes on a shirtless, six-packed man promoting some product.

“Lord have mercy, this is crazy. But I can’t wait,” she shouted to her friends.

A group of women giggled coyly as they told Weekend Argus how their husbands and boyfriends did not know what they were up to.

“They think we’re just having supper. This is much yummier,” one laughed.

A few men stood in between the groups of giggling women.

“I’d rather be at home,” one whispered, so his girlfriend couldn’t hear.

Eventually the crowd in the foyer thinned out as the women made their way into the cinemas.

In the one where the last prescreening was to be shown, and the only cinema in which men were allowed because the others were for a girls’ only event, viewers settled into their seats.

They squealed when the lights dimmed, sat through a number of trailers and occasionally clapped in anticipation.

And then as the trailer for the comedy The Wedding Ringer continued a little longer than expected, the harsh realisation set in: the wrong movie was being shown.

They were not getting their Fifty Shades fix.

Groups of enraged women, and a few men, then stormed out of the cinema demanding to know what was happening.

“I’ve waited so long for this,” one moaned.

Another shouted angrily: “How the hell can they make a mix up like this? This is insane.”

A young American man said he had waited ages to see the movie, and believed it would be Oscar-worthy.

Eventually a Ster-Kinekor employee urged the viewers back into the cinema.

Inside, the employee apologised for the mix up and, just as it seemed the movie would not be shown, he said the magic words: “They’re just waiting for me to give the signal.”

At this the Fifty Shades fans applauded wildly.

When the movie eventually was screened, later than expected, there were a few giggles, “oohs” and “aahs” during the steamier, flesh-baring scenes.

About three-quarters in, two women started dozing off and stretching out in their seats.

They whispered to each other that they were tired because of the initial anti-climax of the movie not being played on time, and not because Grey had let them down.

Saturday Argus

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