SINGAPORE - Comic-book fans have called the organisers of this week's Captain America: Civil War blue-carpet event exploitative, for charging them high fees for better access to the stars of the upcoming Marvel Comics blockbuster.
Events company Reed Exhibitions had sold package deals at $688 and $1,288 that included blue-carpet tickets for Thursday's (April 21) public event at Marina Bay Sands, where the cast of Captain America: Civil War - including Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie - will appear to promote their new movie.
Shortly after fans vented their anger on social media at the high cost over last weekend, these package deals were no longer listed on the website of Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC), which Reed also helms, on Monday afternoon (April 18).
When The Straits Times contacted the company, Reed claimed that the packages were sold out, but refused to divulge the number of packages sold.
Finance manager T. Gan, 49, who wrote on her blog Red Dot Diva of her shock at the prices of these packages, told The Straits Times: "There was no promise that those who purchase the tickets will be able to meet the celebrities. In that sense, it's not worthwhile. In other celebrity fan opportunities, these are almost always free."
Indeed, this is likely the first time that fans here have been directly charged just for red-carpet access. When the stars of Guardians Of The Galaxy and X-Men: Days Of Future Past made public appearances at Shaw House two years ago, fans could line red carpets for selfies and autographs for free.
The closest anyone has had to pay for a similar event is probably when the stars of The Huntsman: Winter's War were in town earlier this month, as fans were required to have a regular theme park ticket to enter Universal Studios Singapore in order to line the red-carpet event.
Mr Gerald Chan, 32, hopes that Reed's packages will not be the model for future red-carpet events here.
The co-founder of entertainment website Geek Culture says: "I think the fee takes away from the spirit of a red-carpet premiere. I would hate to see future red-carpet events follow in the footsteps of this one."
On Thursday, Captain America star Evans and his co-stars Mackie and Sebastian Stan, as well as director of the film Joe Russo, are scheduled to walk down the blue carpet at Marina Bay Sands to greet fans - in an event similar to that of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) two years ago.
The entire Captain America event is free and open to the public, but the special blue-carpet tickets would place fans closer to the stars.
Ms Mary Franklin, global event director of ReedPOP, an offshoot of Reed Exhibitions, says: "In order for the fans to have a truly VIP experience, that experience needs to be limited to a few. It makes them feel very special."
Its blue-carpet ticket package deals started at $688 which, on top of the blue-carpet access, also includes a pass to the movie premiere screening on the same night, a T-shirt, a figurine, a single-day ticket to the STGCC and a go at a laser tag game. The $1,288 package sold includes one night's stay at a deluxe room at Marina Bay Sands.
Given that Reed Exhibitions is also selling a $68 package deal with all of the same products minus the laser tag game, blue carpet and movie tickets, fans say they feel like they are being "exploited".