SINGAPORE - Demand for tickets to the much-anticipated superhero movie Avengers: Endgame has crashed cinema operators' websites. Long queues have also been spotted at popular cinemas such as Shaw Theatres Lido.
Meanwhile, sellers have appeared on online marketplaces like Carousell, offering tickets for sought-after time slots at many times their original price.
Tickets for the movie, which opens on April 24, went on sale on Wednesday morning (April 10).
The issue seems to have affected the online platforms of the major chains, including Golden Village, Shaw Theatres, Cathay Cineplexes, and Filmgarde Cineplexes.
A check by The Straits Times at 1pm on Wednesday showed that while it was possible to use the Golden Village (GV) app to log in and select seats, attempting to complete the booking would cause the app to freeze. The Cathay and Filmgarde websites appeared unresponsive, even on the homepage.
A GV spokesman says: "With the overwhelming demand for tickets to Avengers: Endgame, our website experienced extremely high traffic and customers had to wait longer than usual to purchase their tickets."
Those buying tickets on the Shaw website said they received a queue number.
A spokesman from Shaw said: "Shaw Theatres has activated our queue system for public access to our website and for online bookings for all movie titles including Avengers: Endgame.
"This is to help us better manage the extraordinarily high volume of traffic to our website at the moment. This is a temporary situation and we expect it to be resolved relatively soon. Ticketing is as per normal at the box office at all our cinemas."
Avengers fan Karen Lai had been trying to use the websites of the major cinema chains to purchase sought-after April 24 evening slot tickets, but had either been put on a queue or seen her browser freeze when completing the transaction.
"I hate spoilers, so I want to watch it on opening day, after work," she says.
Analyst Eric De Leon, 31, was one of the lucky fans who snagged tickets to an opening day IMAX screening of the movie at Shaw Theatres Lido.
He had joined the online queue on the Shaw Theatres website in the morning but failed to get any tickets after waiting for 3½ hours.
Discouraged but undeterred, he went to Shaw Theatres Lido in Orchard Road during his lunch break and managed to buy two tickets over the counter - for himself and his girlfriend, who is based in the Philippines.
"I feel so relieved because that's the only day that my girlfriend will be here, and I didn't expect to get any tickets at all," he says.
On Carousell, a user named "ulath" was trying to sell two tickets at $888. They are for the April 27, 2.50pm slot at Cathay Cineplex Jem. Users have responded to the seller with jokes and teasing.
"Hmm I could watch a movie, or for that amount buy a ticket to fly to South Korea," says one user.
On a brighter note, GV says it sold over 15,000 tickets in the first hour, surpassing all previous advance ticket sales record for a single movie.
A spokesman says: "Golden Village experienced unprecedented demand for tickets online and customers even queued for tickets across all 13 multiplexes before the cinemas opened."
Avengers: Endgame is expected to break box-office records worldwide and in Singapore.
In the United States, early demand for tickets also crashed websites last week. AMC Entertainment Holdings, the biggest American theatre chain, could not handle the traffic when tickets first went on sale. Fandango, a top ticket supplier, also struggled to meet demand and had to put customers in lengthy queues.
Even with the glitches, the film broke Fandango's first-day US sales record, topping Star Wars: The Force Awakens from 2015.