Provided by whoever the hell this company is but really MK2 and the city of Paris
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, and also likely because of it, everyone is pretty desperate for some relatively safe entertainment outside our homes.
This week, members of Cleveland media received pitch emails promising "A Floating, Social Distancing Cinema Is Coming to Cleveland," with the curiosity-inspiring image above.
"Floating Cinema is back, but this time with a twist!" it read. "This unique cinema is coming to Cleveland on 23rd September for one week only! The cinema will be made up of 12 to 24 mini boats, holding up to 8 people per boat. Tickets will require you purchase the whole boat to ensure that groups will be seated with friends and family only, and to allow for social distancing on and between boats!
What does "floating cinema is back" mean, when they've never staged this here before?
Something sounds fishy. But still, socially distanced cinema is music to the ears of a news editor. So we continued reading:
"Movies are set to be a mix between golden oldies and new releases but will be announced when tickets go on sale! There will be free popcorn for everyone attending, and other movie snacks and drinks will be available to purchase before you set sail."
They provide a Zip Tickets link
to "be the first to hear about ticket sales!" where you can indicate how many people are in your party and provide your email address. There is no location given, and the name of the organizer is simply "Beyond Cinema." There are no names of actual humans or phone number to call with questions. The sender, "Camila Boyd," uses an email address from a domain name, virtualgamingco.com, that immediately forwards to another generic-looking website.
It is clearly probably bullshit.
Still, lots of media around Cleveland and much farther away are falling for this. Our colleagues at WEWS Channel 5 ran with it
. Our pals at Fox 8 did the same
Just a random search for this ludicrous floating cinema concept turns up links in outlets like WSVN 7News and Fox Sports 640 in Miami, St. Petersburg's WTSP, Attractions Magazine, and it even pops up in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Our bullshit detectors immediately went off, not because we're immune to these stunts, but because companies like this have fooled us in the past, before the pandemic.
In recent years, they got us with a handful of plausible-sounding pop-ups scheduled for the Cleveland. How was that "PokéBar pop-up"? How about the "Brick Bar" that was to be "built with 1 million LEGOs"?
Each sounded achievable and fun, and it made sense to share the signup links. But after the event dates came and went, and the website domains for each expired and reverted to Wix placeholders, we got wise.
In the era of COVID-19, these scams are even worse.
The inspiration for this one, according to brief research and with hints in the provided picture, can be tied back to a floating cinema co-sponsored by the city of Paris and MK2 cinema
(you can see the city name and logo on the picture) that happened on July 18
as part of the annual Paris Plages celebration.
Is every city in America touted as hosting a floating cinema also sponsoring these events? Is MK2? Lol. Could the masterminds behind this ploy actually make something happen? Uh, sure. Is there a way better chance they're out here farming email addresses? Definitely.
In other cities that are supposedly hosting events, local officials have reported no contact with the company
and clarified that generally the Coast Guard and other agencies would have to approve permitting for water events.
These fake promotions indicate that these companies are assuming people who want to attend events right now are pretty gullible. I reached back out to the senders with requests for comment and more information. I also advised them to look into a mirror and examine their own lives. Are they satisfied trying to convince people that fake events are coming their town? Do they gain satisfaction through offering joy, only to ghost on entire cities?
So far, none have responded.