Monday, September 05, 2016

Ticketing and Entry

I was talking with a friend about the new ticketing system for TIFF, and we were both wondering how this is going to work at each screening. Some random questions/thoughts:

  • If you bought your tickets through the TIFF account manager site, then to use those tickets on a mobile device, you need to be able to connect to the internet to log into the mobile version of the TIFF account manager site and bring up your event.
  • The mobile TIFF account manager site does appear to come up by default on phones, but when I tried a tablet, it defaulted to the full desktop site, which does not display mobile tickets. You can manually enter the URL of the mobile site at, and then it seems to work. So if you're thinking about using a tablet or an iPad, be sure you have the correct site bookmarked.
  • If you bought your tickets through Ticketmaster proper, then their mobile app will show those tickets, but not any bought through the TIFF account manager from what I can see. I tried logging into the Ticketmaster app with my TIFF account manager credentials (which are separate from the credentials I use for Ticketmaster normally) and it would not log me in. I use the same e-mail address for both, however, so that likely is a problem; I don't know if it would be any different if I had different e-mail addresses for each account, but I suspect not.
  • If you need to use the TIFF account manager site, as I expect many will, then how is this going to work in venues with limited cellular or wi-fi coverage? If you've ever been in the Lightbox, unless you're on the Bell network, you'll know that cell reception is terrible in that building. I guess you can fall back to wi-fi, but not every venue has public wi-fi, and you may not be close enough to connect until you're at the door.
  • In past years, when they would let a screening in, it was quick and efficient, especially if they had pre-torn all the tickets; how is this going to work when they have to scan everyone in? What happens if people are fumbling around for their phones, or if the scanners have trouble reading the QR codes off the phones? Are they going to let people in earlier than they normally do to account for delays? It already takes forever to load up the Ryerson; can you imagine how long it's going to take if they scan every ticket?
  • Speaking of the Ryerson, they usually take tickets at the doors to the main floor or on the stairs to the balcony; are they going to continue this, or will they scan people prior to entering the building?
  • When my friend went to pick up our programme books, only one handheld scanner at the box office was working; it looked like the staff was trying to reboot the others. Is this kind of thing going to happen at the theaters? What's the backup plan?
I'd like to be optimistic, but I'm assuming the first day of the festival will be a complete gong show getting in, and then they'll work out all the kinks in the system. As an example, in past years, the lines are often a mess at some theaters on the first day until the staff and volunteers get organized and figure out a system.


Thanks for this - you just catalyzed my decision to print all my tickets at home :)

For what it's worth, when you view your mobile ticket on your iPhone (I'm only familiar with iPhone so I'm not sure what the process would be for androids), there is an option at the bottom of the ticket that says "Add to Wallet." This will add the ticket to your Apple Wallet app, and you don't need an internet connection to access them there. You can do the same for your tickets from Ticketmaster.

I also take a screenshot of each of my mobile tickets and save them in my photos on my phone, that way if I have any difficulties with the internet or the app, I have the mobile tickets saved to my phone and can show them from there.

For the print at home option, do they need to be scanned as well die to being able to print/scan/photocopy as many as you want? I know ticketmaster uses scanners for their print at home tickets for concerts so I'm unsure how this will work.

They must have to scan the print at home tickets too - it wouldn't work any other way, otherwise people could copy tickets and use them for multiple people.

The Just For Laughs Festival (JFL42) uses smartphone ticketing; I've been three years in a row, with nary an issue. Of course, buying tickets from THEIR website is easy and reliable, so who knows how this will go at TIFF :P

About cellular coverage at Lightbox: I'm on Rogers, and the only time I have issues with getting a signal is when I'm actually inside a screening room so hopefully pulling up tickets won't be an issue for anyone.

I did print at home, and guess what? I can also do the digital option (same barcode and add to wallet).

So bonus: Redundancy.

Hmmm... also, at Ryerson, I'm thinking - how will they allow in and out for washrooms? Same with lightbox? Based on barcode, I assume the scan will fail if attempted a second time. For printed tickets, they could stamp them (like at Cineplex) but for digital... will they have to give you a "Washroom pass" for the theatre, so that you can use to get back in?

At Lightbox they'll probably give out washroom/concession passes (or wrist stamps) as you leave the auditorium, and at Scotia too. But honestly, all those years when TIFF had a "hard ticket" system, they should have used washroom passes to maintain strict security. Because just showing a ticket stub when you come back from the washroom, well that's easy to exploit and get in to the movie for free when two of your friends have legitimate tickets. It's not rocket science to figure out, but I doubt it was ever much of a problem.

Not doing anything digital this year. I printed everything. I don't trust them to be able to handle this in year 1. Plus, I have to shut off roaming when not in use since I'm an out-of-towner and like others have said, I really don't have any idea of wifi or cellular strength.

Hey there,

I have an extra ticket to the premiere of GRADUATION at the TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX 2 on September 9th
Email me if you're interested at I can transfer the ticket to you through Ticketmaster

I am both adding the mobile tickets to my wallet on the iPhone and printing a hard copy because I have a few 4 movie days where I am not sure if I will have access to a place to recharge my phone. Also, I anticipate that the scanners may be a problem. I have a friend who has volunteered with TIFF for years and I asked her about it a few weeks ago and she hadn't heard the issue discussed yet at their meetings.

Ushers at RTH, the Elgin and PoW who are employed there may be the ones working the scanner.. but Ryerson and the other venues won't have regular employees to sort that out.

And since the TIFF computer system was a mess... I expect issues with this too.

I picked up all my tickets yesterday from my pack and my Ticketmaster orders. They had everything under my email account without having to show my individual order numbers. So that was fancy.

I was advised to only use one option for tickets -- be it hard tickets, printed tickets or mobile tickets. Not a combination of the three. Since I got all hard tickets, I was told to not go near my Ticketmaster orders again because they will generate new barcodes which make the last printed version invalid. And then she told me to just come back and reprint them if I lost any, as opposed to generating the new codes. So @Nicole, I don't think I would advise having multiple versions of tickets because one of them may no longer be valid after you select the next one...

Regarding the logistic issues of these various formats of tickets and going to the washrooms after entering theatre already, I think one way to solve all that issue is have seat assignment. I see this year, the system is ticketmaster which does generate seats. This year, the seats that we are given do not mean anything. Why not? When we buy and redeem, why not choose seats as well? This will eliminate line up 2 hours plus before for some people who want to find good seats.
In addition, I see quite a few people who had these lobby passes which mean they have some sort of disability including fear of lining up or crowded space. I don't doubt that some of them are real cases but I also don't doubt that some people abuse these privileges. When these bad apples abuse the system when they are perfectly fine to line up but they just want to skip the line and be admitted into the theatre first, that is very selfish. Again, with seat pre-assigned, this will eliminate this issue as well.
Finally, we can also decide if we still want to go to a particular film when only seats available are say first row in the very front. I am sure some will choose other films to see while some who really want to see the film will still take those seats. TIFF will also know exactly how many seats were unsold.
Thank you.

Can anyone tell me....

If I print my tickets out, am I still able to transfer them?

I am hoping to make all my screenings but on the chance I can't.


@Marioping -- not all venues have actual numbers on seats. So outside of some theatres like Princess of Wales, Elgin and Roy Thompson Hall (which apparently have assigned "sections" on tickets, not sure if those will be upheld), it would be hard to uphold an assigned seat rule. And there will always be lineups and chaos at TIFF, so it'd be hard to start movies on time if they were to instate an actual specific seating rule. As long as you are showing a valid ticket to get into the movie, I'm sure they'll let you enter and re-enter for bathroom breaks.

@suckingalemon -- if you already printed the ticket, then I'd stick with it. If you transfer it, then it generates a new bar code and voids the previous one.

@DBwin, you are right about some cinemas might not have seat numbers. (I should have a look at Scotiabank to see if they have numbers on seats.) However, if you think about going to a musical or a play at a theatre, there's always seat assigned and those shows start on time. What's the big difference between going to see a live show or a movie? It's all about getting used to it. If we all know that when you buy tickets, you choose your seats on the map, then I don't see any confusion. On the contrary, this year, we have these randomly assigned seats on our tickets which mean nothing (except Roy Thomson Hall, Princess of Wales and Visa Screening Room with assigned section). I think it's more confusing. (The latest email from TIFF today stated that VISA Screening and Princess of Wales have assigned sections according to your tickets. That is not right in my opinion that they are saying it for the first time today.)
Just to add, in other cities I visited, when you go to a movie (regular movie on a regular day), you buy your ticket and choose your seat too.
Just my opinion and suggestion to avoid some issues like going back out to washrooms, long line up before the movie, and trying to sneak in other guests without tickets.
Thank you.

Section and seat numbers on tickets:
Please note there is no assigned seating with the exception of our Patrons Circle pods (C3 and C4) in Roy Thomson Hall for Gala screenings. At the Visa Screening Room, Princess of Wales, and Roy Thomson Hall (with the above exception), the section number on your ticket indicates the area of the venue you will be seated in.
Please check your ticket.

We recommend arriving at venues one hour prior to your screening time and joining your ticket-holder line to get your preferred seat in your section. Seating is only guaranteed until 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the screening.

I wonder if TIFF will ever do assigned seating for all screenings. Can you imagine not having to rush to every screening, or stand online for an hour wondering when they'll let you in for the screening or wondering if you have enough time to scarf down a quick meal?

I hope they start things on time this year, b/c that also messes with the experience. I no longer schedule movies that are less than an hour apart due to this.

By contrast, at NYFF (which is part of Lincoln Center), they only do reserved seating, so if you show up a few minutes before it starts, you don't have to worry about losing your seat. And the talent tends to go to all screenings!

Sorry for complaining, but I'm a New Yorker and it's in my DNA :)

@Andrea - here here! :).

Opening night of the festival, at Winter Garden the TIFF volunteers and permanent staff of the facility were all very efficient, no problem with scanning or loading the theatre. (Loads of empty seats for Nocturama though.) At Scotia, aside from the up-escalator being broken there was a huge delay in loading the theatre for the 8:15 show. I don't know if it was because of scanning, or some other reason.

They had trouble reading my hard ticket with the scanner at the 9 o'clock show at Scotia. I didn't get an email explaining the seating at the Elgin and Winter Garden. How do you know what the sections are? I see Gen A and Gen B on my tickets. So I can't sit with a friend if they have a different section?

I was there at Scotia tonight. I was told it was indeed a scanning issue. I immediately responded that it was predicted here 2 days ago!
A friend was at Scotia a couple weeks ago and the Escalator was down, I thought it would be fixed by now. That was a real treat after hiking several blocks in humid T.O. to get there.

Really? A woman with a bad knee was practically crying and after struggling and complaining a volunteer said ' oh there's an elevator.' Would have been nice if they had mentioned that while we stood for over an hour outside in the heat.

Re the seating:
I believe the "sectional" seating applies to the Elgin but not the Winter Garden. Can someone who was at the WG confirm this?

At Ryerson, they scanned at the door before you entered the building, rather than at the inner doors or the balcony stairs as in years past. Scanning went pretty efficiently and the theater seemed to load up about as fast as normal.

I've been wondering how they will enforce the section you're supposed to be in. I'll be at POW later and see but not happy that we are now confined to a "section". Are they going to have people at each entrance in POW directing you to your section? I have friends that bought tickets at different times and because of the section designation, I can no longer sit with them??? I also have a friend with serious neck issues and can't be looking down from a balcony to see movies so she's pissed and figuring out how to change it. Others would also have similar issues w/ not being able to get up to the balcony or being assigned a section that is not close enough due to poor eyesight, etc. I understand assigning a section but I think we should have been allowed to pick the section, like when you buy tickets to a broadway show or ballet, etc. Not just have it assigned for you.

If anyone had POW experience last night, let me know how was. If anyone has experience on changing a section, also let me know. My friend with the neck issues was told to talk with the venue house manager. Don't know.

Elgin has seating sections but Winter Garden is still general admission. Volunteers were at the door checking tickets at Elgin for Orchestra (downstairs) or Upper (balcony & mezzanine). It's not strictly enforced though, there was a couple who made it up to the balcony and were told their tickets said orchestra but didn't feel like taking the stairs back down! Volunteers and ushers said it was no problem.

At the Winter Garden seating was general admission for the whole theatre, unrelated to the "section" on each ticket.

An email went out yesterday morning (September 8) with the information quoted above by gzex. If the information is also on, I can't find it. I am not sure whether the email went out to everyone with tickets at the affected venues, or only to TIFF members.

@Susaleenah: All movie theatres in Ontario are required to be wheelchair-accessible. (I believe that's why the Eglinton had to close.) If any building in Toronto has a huge staircase/escalator like at Scotia, you can assume it has an elevator (lift) as an alternative.

Bullshit move by TIFF. I strictly avoid RTH every year because of the balcony and now it looks like they've ruined Elgin and POW now. I have tickets to second screenings (non-premieres) of films at Elgin and they want me to sit in the balcony for that? No thanks.

Hi does anyone know what happens when you Rush with a mobile voucher? There's no barcode or way to access it through Apple Wallet (or maybe there is and I'm unaware). Thanks in advance for any info!

I was at PoW last night for I am not Madame Bovary. They scanned my ticket without an issue and told me to click info to see what section I was in. There was no enforcement of the sections as such. The theatre wasn't packed though, so perhaps more popular movies they will check? I don't see how they will have time though. We were already running 20 minutes late as it was.

I don't think the second screenings of movies at Elgin or PoW will realistically enforce sections. They won't have time to check beyond scanning.

As for wheelchair access at the Scotiabank, the elevator is in between the escalators and ticket counters. I am sure there would be a line up to get on when the escalators are broken.

Fact: Winter Garden has no sections enforce. I was there on Thursday. According to an email sent out from TIFF on Thursday, only Elgin, POW have sections enforced.

RTH: I believe there has always been sections enforced according to your tickets. This year, many emails I received from TIFF stated that there would be sections (C3/C4) on your tickets.

1. I think TIFF fails at the communication this year. Thursday opening day was the first time TIFF mentions about the sections for POW and Elgin.
2. If you are gonna enforce sections at POW and Elgin, then we should be able to choose the sections when purchasing tickets. Just like when we buy tickets to a concert or a stage show, you choose best available, or by section of your choice. It seems extremely unfair that the ticketing system assigns you a seat/section and you are stuck with it.

I was at Elgin last night for Elle (what a brilliantly fucked up film!) and they had ushers at the top of the aisles enforcing the sections on your ticket. They checked my ticket for "orchestra GA" before letting me through.

Looking to sell or trade two tickets for Planetarium tonight at 9:30pm. (They are youth, hopefully won't be a problem.) Please email me at gwen.damaren (at) if interested. Thanks!

They just enforced seating sections at POW for the new Malick film. It was sold out so maybe that's why.

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Hi. Not sure if this is the right place to post this question, but here goes. Can I exchange tickets at the box office still this year? Like if the movie is getting terrible reviews can I change them for something else still available. Bought in a my choice pack. Thanks :)

Tracey Horwitz
Sure, at the main box office. I was talking to them about that today. It has to be a Premium for a Premium, Reg Flex for Reg Flex, Daytime for Daytime etc. You can't trade in a film playing that day, but you can ask for one playing that day. Not sure if the fluctuating "demand" pricing factors in, like if you want a ticket going for $32 and you paid $25 for the one you're trading in.

From scroll down to almost the very bottom of the page, where it says "The Festival Packages & Tickets". If you have a package, then there's no service fees on exchanges. The "surge pricing"/"demand pricing" or whatever it's called is irrelevant to tickets on a package, including exchanges. The deadline is 7pm the night before the original screening. What I'm not sure about is the procedure for exchanging online, tickets redeemed on a My Choice package. I think I saw something on Twitter suggesting that if you've already "printed" your ticket (I put "printed" in quote marks because that also includes saving it to a PDF without physically printing it) then you have to bring it to the box office but otherwise you can exchange it online.

This is my first year with lobhy pass and I don't like how the public treats me because I look normal. My physical condition is rare and I work hard to hide it. I hide my lobby pass in my hag and am embarrassed to need it as staff & randoms give me looks. Unfair!!! By the way the Lobby Pass is not easy to get. I was questioned forever and asked for documentation. Never even heard about the Lobby Pass before this year and I have been going for 12 years. I don't think people can abuse it as nobody knows about itm

This is my first year with lobhy pass and I don't like how the public treats me because I look normal. My physical condition is rare and I work hard to hide it. I hide my lobby pass in my hag and am embarrassed to need it as staff & randoms give me looks. Unfair!!! By the way the Lobby Pass is not easy to get. I was questioned forever and asked for documentation. Never even heard about the Lobby Pass before this year and I have been going for 12 years. I don't think people can abuse it as nobody knows about itm

I had tickets to the Elgin on Sunday.....they kept saying stuff about Floor and Balcony but I ignored it and just nodded my head when they asked if I was going to the Floor. There's too many folks walking in at one time to really enforce that.

I didn't realize this was a real issue / not trying to cheat my way to sit in a section.
But let's just say I think you can get away with sitting where you want.

Thanks for the info. I made the exchange today, no problem.

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Has anyone ever done the People's Choice screening?

Do people line up all day hoping to get tickets or is it not too bad?

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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