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Yes, I’ve Seen it. No, I’m Not Going To Spoil It

December 21, 2015

Okay, this time you picked a good anniversary present.

Ah, thanks. 

You don’t get it right every year, but this year you did.

Of course, the “it” in the title is the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. This post is not a review of the movie. I liked it. I’ve seen the movie twice. The second time I saw it was last Saturday at my daughter’s work party. 

“Dad, do you want to come watch Star Wars with my coworkers and me?”

How could I turn that down? The first time, though, was Thursday night before it officially opened. My friend Caleb threw a party for a few hundred people. I was taking my wife out on a surprise date for our wedding anniversary. It was that party that I want to write about. 

My friend is not a project manager. He’s not an event planner. In fact, he’s a music conductor. He’s also a Star Wars fan. A few months ago he posted online and asked, “Who would be interested in a Star Wars viewing party?” Several of us chimed in and expressed interest. And that’s where I left it. I expected a small get together with friends. So, how did it turn into an catered event for 350 people? 

It’s an interesting study in project management and especially scope creep. An important point is that this was not Caleb’s first movie viewing party. He also put together a party for viewing the last Hobbit film. Saturday night, I saw his wife taking tickets. Their kids were checking people’s ID at the food line. I asked his wife about it.

So, Caleb decides to have a party and the entire family has to work? 

You mean, Caleb decided to have a party for 350 people?

Yeah, I was expecting a small get together.

Well, that’s what we did with the Hobbit. It was at the studio. I cooked some food and it was a few friends. This? This is a whole different level.

How had a gathering of a few friends turned into a catered affair at the largest capacity theater in Orem, Ut? Two words: Scope Creep. 

Caleb started looking for a venue and got in contact with the manager for the theatre. The manager suggested that rather than rent the theatre, they could expand the event.

You know, we could cater it and you could have it here. 

By the time they were done, there was not only catering, but a cantina band in full costume, actors wearing Star Wars costumes as backdrops for the professional photographer, multiple Star Wars memorabilia displays, custom Star Wars Cups, popcorn buckets, and VIP badges. 

Tickets ranged from $20-$35 each. And (probably) because of a licensing issue, the ticket didn’t include the cost of the movie. Pay to come to the party and you get to see the movie for free. I once gave a Subaru Brat to a guy who paid me $1200 for the wheels. 

As I sat in the Catina with my lovely wife enjoying the food and the music, the project manager side of my brain thought through the various tasks that would need to be considered for a function like this. 

  • Schedule: Pretty much set since it was tied to the release of the film
  • Budget: 350 people times an average of $25 per person = $8,750
  • “Features”: Food, Pictures, band, drinks, pop corn and the theatre

I was impressed with the entire experience. It reminded me that project and program management, while closely tied to software projects, actually have concepts that can be applied to any project. 

Even one set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. 


Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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