Monday, June 25, 2012

Thoughts on TIFF 2012 Ticketing So Far

Well, today was the first day of ticket package sales for TIFF Members. Some thoughts on how things went so far:

  • The site didn't go down, and didn't seem to have any noticeable performance issues from what I saw or from what I can divine from Twitter. That's encouraging, although we'll have to see how it holds up during advance ticket selection and individual ticket availability.
  • There were however, a few errors. The first was a validation error on Province if you were from outside Canada or the US, but TIFF got it fixed fairly quickly without having to take the site down.
  • Another problem that some people including myself saw, was an error message if you tried to buy a Programme Book with a ticket package. I got around that by doing two separate transactions, one for each.
  • If you want to pick the first item in the list of things to purchase (i.e. the Festival Programme Book), you may have to click something else in the list then re-click the book to get it to select the item.
  • Didn't see any other mentions of problems, so hopefully that bodes well for the future.
  • The My Choice Premium Ticket Pack is off sale (i.e. sold out) as of 6:46 PM on June 25, 2012. I don't know if any more will become available when public sales start, so keep checking if you're interested in that one, but otherwise you may be out of luck. The TIFF Choice Premium Sampler is still available.

Packages on Sale to TIFF Members

Packages are now on sale to TIFF Members (if you're not a TIFF Member, you can buy ticket packages starting on July 3 if you have a Visa card, July 9 for all payment methods).

One thing to note; you may get an error if you try to buy a programme book with a ticket package. If this happens to you, buy each one in a separate transaction; i.e. complete one transaction with your packages, and a separate one for your programme book.

Right now for TIFF Members, all payment methods are accepted (Visa, MasterCard, Amex).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Additional Ticketing Questions

Thanks to Greg at for some additional clarifications he got from TIFF staff:

  • The online ticketing system will be down for maintenance between 1:00 AM and 4:00 AM each night, but other than that, you can select your tickets (for My Choice packages) anytime after your scheduled start time (and before the end of your advance ticketing period).
  • Each account/membership can purchase 1 Premium flex pack (which is either 6 or 12 tickets) and/or up to 4 TIFF Choice packs.
  • Ticket exchanges can be made starting on September 4, 2012 and up to 7:00 PM the day before the screening. There is no fee for exchanges on screenings in packages, and a $2.50 fee for single ticket exchanges (regardless of whether you are a TIFF member).
  • MasterCard and American Express are now accepted as payment methods. There is an advance purchase window for Visa cardholders (for ticket packages) because Visa is a major sponsor of the festival.

Ticket Dates and Process for TIFF 2012

I've added a diagram of the ticketing process and dates to the Important Dates page, but the diagram is included below. You may have to save it locally to your computer to view it in its entirety.

One clarification; it appears that everyone (TIFF Members or otherwise) have until August 29, 2012 at 7:00 PM to complete selection for the main My Choice packages. Although if you are  a TIFF Member, there would be no point in waiting that long.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Choice Flex Pack Pricing

Thanks to Steve Almond, who got clarification from TIFF on the exact pricing for the My Choice Flex Pack, which breaks down as follows:

  • 20: $320
  • 30: $450
  • 40: $560
  • 50: $600
  • 60: $720
  • 70: $840
  • 80: $960
  • 90: $1,080
  • 100: $1,200
Putting it another way:
  • 10 or 20 tickets: $16/ticket
  • 30 tickets: $15/ticket
  • 40 tickets: $14/ticket
  • 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, or 100 tickets: $12/ticket
Compared to 2011, this represents:
  • 10 tickets: no change from 2011
  • 30 tickets: 16.5% increase for adult (was $386), 37% increase for student/senior (was $328)
  • 50 tickets: 14.5% increase for adult (was $524), 35% increase for student/senior (was $444)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Tickets Should I Buy for TIFF?

Recently, in talking to some people who had never been to the festival before, it seemed like it might be a good idea to provide some suggestions as to what types of tickets or ticket packages you might want to buy for TIFF 2012.

If you've never been to the festival before, your best bet might be to just buy a couple of individual tickets once they go on sale to the general public on September 2. I wouldn't worry about trying to figure out how the advance ticketing system works, or buying a membership, or anything like that, as that's just too complicated if you've never been and want to ease into things.

If you've gone that route and want to branch out a bit more, then consider buying one of the TIFF Choice packages. A good choice would be the Contemporary World Cinema package, the Daytime Sampler package, or the Evening & Weekend Sampler package. Once again, you don't have to worry about the advance ticketing process, since TIFF will pick films for you. Just buy the package, and wait for TIFF to tell you what movies you got. The Evening & Weekend Sampler package is the best choice for anyone who works during the day.

Now, if you've done the above a few times and want to start delving deeper into the festival, you can look at the My Choice packages. These are good if you want to see a larger number of films, and/or you want more control over what movies you see, and/or you want to select films before individual tickets go on sale to the general public. If just starting out, your best bets would be the 10-Ticket Pack (you get to pick any combination of films, with up to 4 tickets per screening), or the 6-Premium-Ticket Pack (if you want to see bigger galas with bigger stars).

That's basically the route I took over the years. I'm at the point now where I usually take vacation for the festival and see about 25 films on average (which is not a lot compared to some of the diehards - there's a fairly sizeable contingent of people who see at least 50 films every year).

Feel free to post questions in the comments; I'll be happy to try and answer the best I can (which is a bit tougher this year since they've completely changed the system).

Some Additional Ticketing and Other Tidbits for TIFF 2012

Had a chance to listen to and ask a few questions of some TIFF staffers on ticketing this year, as well some other miscellaneous tidbits, collected below:

  • I've updated the Important Dates page with more detailed breakdowns of what happens when. Main thing I got was a more detailed breakdown of purchase windows for TIFF members, which I know doesn't necessarily help everyone, but the info is there anyway.
  • Note Visa cardholders still get to purchase ticket packages earlier, but the festival now accepts all major credit cards the rest of the time.
  • The person from TIFF wasn't sure, but she thought that it might be the case advance ticketing windows would be from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
  • They are also didn't have any info on what the specific pricing is in the big Flex Pack (e.g. say if you wanted 50 tickets).
  • If you purchase multiple packages, you will still only get one login window for completing your picks (assuming they are all related to the same membership/account).
  • You can have a maximum of 100 package tickets per membership/account, regardless of the combination of packages you might purchase.
  • You can have up to 4 TIFF Choice packages, plus 1 Regular flex pack, plus 1 Premium flex pack per membership/account. So I would take that to mean you could by a 50-ticket Flex Pack and a 6-Premium-Ticket pack, but you couldn't buy a second 6-Premium-Ticket pack as well. I'm not completely sure on this, as the names and definitions of the packages leave this particular policy open to interpretation.
  • The newly renovated Bloor Hot Docs cinema is an official theatre this year.
  • There was a bit of talk as to the possibility that Midnight Madness might not only be in the Ryerson this year, but I don't have any further confirmation on this, or how that would even work.
Had a chance to talk to a few other regular festival-goers today, and the general consensus is that everyone is extremely sceptical this new online ordering process is going to work. Obviously we all hope it does work, but we're also expecting the worst to happen. Hopefully we'll be pleasantly surprised. I guess one other additional benefit to the new system will be for out-of-town festival goers who would traditionally have to rely on the courier package which seemed to have its own ups and downs.

As I hear more info, I'll continue to post updates.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Additional Thoughts on TIFF 2012 Ticketing Changes

Some pros and cons of the new changes for ticketing for TIFF 2012:


  • Ticket prices by and large seem to be in line with last year (although see the comments below for discussions on where they do differ); one main area still unclear is the exact pricing for the flex packs; I asked a TIFF staffer, and she didn't know what the exact breakdown would be yet.
  • Ability to get up to 4 tickets per screening in My Choice packages, instead of just 1
  • New ticket package to select Premium screenings through the advance ticketing process
  • New flexible packages to get 20 to 100 tickets in 10-ticket increments
  • Can see immediately which tickets are available during the advance ticketing process, giving you more opportunities to select alternative screenings if your first choice is sold out
  • Appears that your start time for advance ordering could occur at any time, not necessarily something that may be convenient to you
  • If you don't log in as soon as you can, screenings that may have been available at that time could be sold out by the time you do get on
  • You only have one shot, and only one hour, to make your selections, so you better be organized
  • Will the system actually stand up under the load?
  • Will there end up being a crush of people all trying to log in during the evening because their start times occurred during the day?
  • If you get booted before you can actually check out, you could just end up with a pile of vouchers that you'll have to manually redeem. If you've experienced the old ordering system, this was a not-uncommon occurrence when the system was busy
A number of people seem to be cheering the move online, but I'm not sure their expectations are actually in line with how TIFF implemented the process. As outlined above, there's some pros to this approach, but the whole start time and limited window concept is going to throw people once they actually understand how the process works.

I've also seen a few comments, including from TIFF, that people think this online system will eliminate long lines. The old advance ordering process never really had any long lines in terms of getting your schedule or selecting your films or turning in your orders; it was once tickets were selected and exchanges were allowed that lines occurred, but that isn't going to change under the new system. And you're still going to have lines at the box office when individual tickets go on sale; once again, this new system isn't going to solve that problem either.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 Festival Ticketing Update

The festival released details on ticketing for the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Prices have generally remained steady from previous years back to 2010.

Consult my Important Dates page for dates relevant to the ticketing process.

Note Visa is the only accepted credit card; otherwise you have to pay by cash or debit card.

Before getting into the various ticket options, some additional changes:

  • The old Advance Order Forms have been replaced by an online system. Consult my post here for more details. You will also be able to do advance orders by phone or in person. While people have been clamoring for an online system for years, I'm not sure this is what people were actually expecting.
  • You can now get up to 4 tickets per screening per account/membership for My Choice packages. Previously, many packages limited you to 1 ticket per screening. However, you are allowed only one regular screening flex pack and one premium screening flex pack per account/membership, but I don't have any additional information on what might be covered by that restriction.
  • TIFF Choice packages are limited to 1 ticket per screening, and you can only purchase 4 TIFF Choice packages per account/membership.
  • The Flex Pack has been introduced which allows you to buy 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, or 100 tickets in one go. This is a positive improvement for those people who used multiple 10, 30 or 50 ticket packages in the past.
  • The 6-Premium Ticket Pack has been introduced to allow advance ordering of Premium screenings.
  • A number of other packages have been removed or consolidated.
Now, a breakdown of the ticket options for 2012. A comparison with 2010 is provided in brackets for each option where available (I didn't do an explicit breakdown last year). Note if you are a senior or are 25 & under and want to buy at the discounted prices, you will need to show appropriate ID. Prices below also do not include taxes or service fees, which are extra.

The festival has grouped tickets into one of three options:
  1. Single Tickets: can be bought starting September 2.
  2. My Choice: you select films prior to the festival starting, following the new advance ordering process. The packages must be bought before late August when the Advance Order procedure starts.
  3. TIFF Choice: the TIFF programmers pre-select films for you. These packages can be bought before or during the festival (while supplies last)
Single Tickets:

Single tickets can be bought starting September 2, 2012, up until the end of the festival. If a screening is sold out, additional tickets will be released at 7:00 AM the day of the screening, and there is the Rush Line for each film as well.

For single tickets, for regular screenings, the cost is $19.69 for adults (no change from 2010), or $17.03 ($0.01 cheaper than in 2010) for seniors, $15.04 for 25 & under, and $12.83 for 12 & under. Note movies may have age restrictions, especially if they are as yet unrated.

For single tickets, for premium screenings, the cost is $38.27 for adults (no change from 2010), or $32.08 for seniors (was $19.03 in 2010), $25.00 for 25 & under, and $23.01 for 12 & under. Premium Screenings are indicated as such online and in the Official Film Schedule.

My Choice packages:

Note you are allowed only one regular screening flex pack and one premium screen flex pack per account/membership.

10-Ticket Pack
$160 (no change from 2010), no information on senior or under-25 pricing
See  up to 10 films (maximum of 4 tickets per screening)
Cannot see Premium screenings (to be confirmed)
Can participate in the Advance Order Procedure

Flex Pack
$320 to $1,200, no information on senior or under-25 pricing
See from 20 to 100 films in 10-film increments
Cannot see Premium screenings (to be confirmed)
Can participate in the Advance Order Procedure

6-Premium-Ticket Pack
$300, no information on senior or under-25 pricing
See 2 Premium screenings
Can participate in the Advance Order Procedure

Back Half Pack
$50, no information on senior or under-25 pricing
See 5 films from September 11 to 16
Can participate in the Advance Order Procedure, but only on September 3

20-Ticket Daytime Pack
$190 (25-Films Daytime Pack in 2010 was $202), no information on senior or under-25 pricing
See 20 films that start before 5:01 PM
Can participate in the Advance Order Procedure, but only on September 3

Programme Book
$35 ($100 for book + delivery)
Includes Programme Book, Official Film Schedule, sent by FedEx.

TIFF Choice packages:

TIFF Choice packages cannot participate in the Advance Order Procedure since films are pre-selected by festival programmers.

Note a single purchaser can purchase a maximum of 4 TIFF Choice packages. Each package only provides 1 ticket per screening. You cannot exchange tickets in a TIFF Choice package for other screenings. There's also a weird disclaimer that English-language films can't be guaranteed for a TIFF Choice package; I think that means you may get a subtitled film (all films are either in English or have English subtitles).

If you do buy multiple packages of the same type, note that the films included in each package may differ if you buy them at different times; e.g. if you buy two "The Canadian" packages, but two weeks apart, they may contain different films from one another.

The Canadian Pack
$80 (no change from 2010), $68 for students and seniors (down from $80 in 2010)
1 ticket to 5 different films by Canadian filmmakers.

Midnight Madness Pack
$156 (no change from 2010), $100 for students and seniors (no change from 2010)
1 ticket to each of 10 films in the Midnight Madness programme
Films are at 11:59 PM
City-to-City Pack
$156 (no change from 2010), $100 for students and seniors (no change from 2010)
1 ticket to each of 10 films in the City-to-City programme, centered around a single city (this year is Mumbai)

Wavelengths Pack
$70 (was $55 in 2010), $60 for students and seniors (was $47 in 2010)
1 ticket to each of 6 films in the Wavelengths programme (4 shorts and 2 features)

Contemporary World Cinema
$90, $75 for students and seniors
5 films from around the world selected by TIFF programmers

Daytime Sampler
$82 (was $63 in 2010, but only for 3 films), $70 for students and seniors
5 films guaranteed to start before for 5:01 PM

Evening & Weekend Sampler
$94 (was $69 in 2010, but only for 3 films), $80 for students and seniors
5 films starting from 5:01 PM on or anytime on weekends

Premium Sampler
$125, $100 for students and seniors
3 premium screenings at any time during the festival
Closing Night Gala + Cocktail
$180 (no change from 2010), $153 for students and seniors (was $180 in 2010)
1 ticket to the Closing-Night Gala and cocktail reception on Saturday, September 15

Additional Ticketing Information for all tickets and packages:

Ticket packages or individual tickets can be bought on the dates indicated at the start of this post at:

Online (site is down between 1 AM and 4 AM for maintenance)

Daily, 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM

In person
TIFF Bell Lightbox
Reitman Square
350 King St W
Daily, 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM until August 20, 2012

Festival Box Office
225 King St W
Metro Centre
Entrance at the foot of Duncan St
(opens Aug 21, 2012)

New Ticketing Changes for TIFF 2012

Big changes are afoot for the advance ticketing process for the 2012 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. The biggest change is that it appears TIFF is moving to an online selection process for the My Choice ticket packages, as opposed to the paper-based system of years past (it looks like you can also do the ordering process by phone or at the Festival Box Office at 225 King St W).

TIFF will randomly assign you a start time over a 4 day-period (August 23 - 26 for TIFF Contributor Members and up, by Member level; or August 26 - 29 for everyone else) if you buy a 10-Ticket Pack, a Flex Pack, and/or a 6-Premium-Ticket Pack. If you buy a Back Half Pack or a 20-Ticket Daytime Pack, selection windows will start on September 3. For the former, once your start time is reached, you have from then until 7:00 PM on August 29, 2012 to make your selections. However, once you enter the system, you only have 1 hour to complete your selections.

If you fail to complete your selections within the hour, then anything left in your shopping cart will be released back into the available inventory. If you only make a portion of your selections before checking out, any unused selections will be given back to you as vouchers; it doesn't appear that you can go back into the system multiple times to complete your order - you have one shot to get it right.

If you don't log in before 7:00 PM on August 29, you will be locked out until 10:00 AM on September 3. At that point, you have until 7:00 PM on September 5 to make your selections. If you still don't log in after that, you'll get vouchers you'll have to redeem manually.

I think most regular festival-goers at this point are wondering how in the world this is going to work given the failure in past years of the box office system to stand up to the load. I'm highly skeptical that even with staggered start windows that there aren't going to be performance issues, especially if people don't start and finish within their original assigned window. Hopefully they've substantially overhauled, upgraded, and tested their systems, otherwise there's likely to be a revolt if the system has problems. Back in 2010, they attempted a shopping cart-type system, but that collapsed under the load and they fell back to their old ticketing page. If this doesn't work, I can't see any fallback except huge lineups at the festival box office. Even today, I've gotten Server Too Busy error messages when trying to access the main TIFF site, which does not inspire a whole lot of confidence.

Speaking of which, there's no mention of when those selection windows could occur, but I'd guess that they could conceivably fall during the day, when most people may be at work (note they actually have a note on their website that the site has a regular maintenance window from 1:00 to 4:00 AM, so at least your window won't fall into that timeframe). While you aren't required to sign in right at your assigned start time, it doesn't appear there's any benefit to waiting; in fact, you may be penalized if you do so. If you wait several hours, that many more people will have been admitted to the system and snapped up tickets. For those familiar with the old system, it's like the Festival is telling you ahead of time what box you'll be in. But if you wait too long, you'll get pushed into later and later boxes.

On top of all this, you can now select up to 4 tickets per screening per account, unlike the previous 1 ticket limit for some of the old packages. This would seem to increase the chance of more popular screenings selling out faster. And they've introduced Flex Packs, which allow you to buy 20 to 100 tickets in bulk. I'd love to see the person who is going to complete an online order for 100 tickets in a 1-hour period.

If all this works, kudos to the Festival, but nothing in past experience would indicate that this is going to be a walk in the park. The problem is that the people most likely to fill out advance orders are the ones who have been going to the festival the longest, and the ones who are going to be most vocal if problems occur. Potential technical issues notwithstanding, this new process also introduces new problems if your assigned window isn't convenient for you because you're at work or away from a computer or unable to get to the box office. Yes, you still have until August 29 to finish your selections, but by that point everyone else in the system has already made their picks and actually snapped up tickets. Be interesting to see what everyone else's take is on this. Feel free to add your own comments to the post, or any corrections if you see or hear of different info.

My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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