When a Burbank theater’s sound system failed during the opening night screening of “The Last Jedi,” outraged fans — some in costume — stormed the theater lobby Thursday, prompting a response by police.
The chaos was captured on video by Lynly Ehrlich, who had taken the day off from work and dressed up as film character Rey (complete with staff) before heading to the 9:45 p.m. showing of the new “Star Wars” film at the AMC Burbank 16 with her husband.
The sound worked fine during the 30 minutes of trailers and the opening sequence of the movie, but then something went wrong. When the voices were muffled in the first scene, Ehrlich thought maybe it was an artistic choice.
“Literally the next scene, there were nothing but muffled vocals. you could not understand a word anyone was saying,” she said.
Ehrlich, who described herself as a massive “Star Wars” fan, headed to the box office to let staff know. By the time she got to the counter, another woman was already there screaming about it, she said.
Before long, an irate crowd had assembled in the lobby yelling at theater workers.
That’s when Ehrlich started recording.
“I thought that there was going to be violence that was going to erupt,” she said. “And I wanted to have video just in case I had to go to court. That was my first thought.”
Ehrlich said a man dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi tried to calm people down.
“I think he was waving his hand to try to use the Force, but I’m not entirely certain,” Ehrlich said with a laugh.
Theater employees offered customers refunds, but explained to the crowd that they could not restart the film because it would throw off the night’s screening schedule.
“That’s when people got really, really angry,” Ehrlich said. “It was no more than 10 minutes into the film and they refused to restart it because they said they had such strict time schedules.”
Ehrlich headed back into the theater to try to finish watching the movie, but 30 to 40 minutes had passed by then and she said she could not follow the story line.
“The whole experience was completely ruined for me, so we ended up leaving,” Ehrlich said. “I’ve waited two years to see this movie and for that experience to be taken away from me was just a bummer.”
When the couple collected their refunds and exited the theater, half a dozen Burbank police officers were on the scene. Ehrlich said an officer told her that someone did end up getting escorted out of the theater.
In Ehrlich’s video, posted to YouTube, an attendant tells the unhappy crowd that the movie will not be restarted but that they can get refunds. He is met with shouts of, “Restart it.”
As the employee continues speaking to the crowd, he is drowned out by angry customers.
A woman who answered the phone at AMC Burbank 16 on Friday morning declined to comment.
“We’re not releasing any information about what happened last night,” the woman said. “We’re not giving out any statements to any media.”
Burbank police confirmed that officers went to the theater about 10:20 p.m. after receiving reports of a large group “causing a disturbance with management.”
Derek Green, public information officer with Burbank police, said officers restored order and there was no physical violence or arrests made and no police report generated.
“It appeared the patrons were upset over a sound issue with the movie,” Green said. “As far as the end result of the movie itself, I have no clue.”
Ehrlich said she was avoiding “The Last Jedi” spoilers on Facebook and that she and her husband would try again to see the movie on Sunday — after they’ve had time to recover from Thursday’s drama.
“Someone referred to it as taking the next couple of days to detox and find my love of ‘Star Wars’ again to be able to go see it,” Ehrlich said. “That opening night experience for me was totally ruined.”