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'The Artist' is only the latest movie to irk audiences into demanding a refund

It’s been hard not to hear buzz surrounding the 2011 black-and-white silent film The Artist. It has taken awards from Cannes, The European Film Awards, The Golden Globes, The Hollywood Film Festival, and several million other festivals and ceremonies. Despite a limited release, The Artist posted very high box office numbers and has enjoyed mostly positive reviews from critics, earning a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, even when it seems like a movie is pleasing everybody, it just can’t please everybody.

The Telegraph has reported that some Liverpool audiences have demanded refunds after realizing The Artist had no sound. It’s hard to say exactly what the irked moviegoers thought they were walking into when they bought tickets for that particular film, but the misunderstanding certainly can’t be blamed on the trailer this time. Featuring no dialogue, a soundless whistle and noiseless scream, it’s hard to imagine what sort of absurdly off-base preconceptions certain audience members garnered from the preview.

It’s hard for me to get too sanctimonious about audiences demanding refunds, since I myself did that very thing when I went to see The Matrix Revolutions. In my defense, I was thirteen and the speakers in my small town theater were shorting out. Plus, that movie sucked. Other than technical related issues, though, there are more and more reported incidents of movie audiences demanding refunds.

Late last year, a Michigan woman sued FilmDistrict, the distributor of the Ryan Gosling movie Drive, claiming “Drive bore very little similarity to a chase, or race action film… having very little driving in the motion picture.” The plaintiff, Sarah Deming, blames the “misleading” movie trailer for her dissatisfaction, and is seeking to halt production of such in the future.

In 2010, a Chinese woman sued a theater and a distributor for forcing her to sit through 20 minutes of commercials and movie trailers. Recently, The Devil Inside has been earning more than its fair share of complaints and forcing theaters to issue more than their fair share of refunds due to an anticlimactic third act. The arthouse film The Tree of Life forced many theaters to put up slightly pretentious signs informing patrons of the recommended level of intelligence needed to view the film.

It’s a sad sign of what the world is coming to when people can’t take responsibility for their choices in what to watch. Of course, that’s not to say I wasn’t tempted to burn down the theater where I saw Paranormal Activity 3.

So, if forced to act like an ignorant jerk, which movies would you (or have you) demand a refund for seeing, and why?

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