Meet Matt Griffin. He's the hero we need, not the hero we deserve:
Matt Griffin is an on-the-ground serviceman for Media Merge, a Chelsea, Ala.-based high-tech service company. And he's a certified IMAX repair technician.
We located Matt Griffin on The Internet Saturday afternoon in a fit of blinding desperation after hearing that the IMAX projector at the Mall of Georgia was continually overheating and cutting showings of The Dark Knight short or cancelling them all together, ruining the experience for hundreds of moviegoers who (like us) had been frothing at the mouth for weeks at the potential of seeing an 8-story tall Ennis Del Mar.
As Josh Thompson, who drove from Augusta only to have his 3:40 show scrubbed, told the AJC that day: "I'm beyond bummed. I'm really [angry]!" (Sources assume that [angry]! actually meant "pissed!").
The situation was dire. Our 10:20 p.m. show was fast approaching. Either we could sit on the floor of Pouya's Atlanta apartment and lament our woes while taking out aggression by firing a machine gun at the heart of the Statue of Liberty, or we could take action.
Like Batman, we sought justice. Justice through the utility belt of our age: Google. A search for IMAX repair companies brought only one real result in the form of Media Merge.
We called. The voice mail picked up. "For emergency service, please press 1 now." Well hell, if this isn't an emergency in the world of gigantic projector screens, nothing is.
Pouya and I made the plea. Hello, we're calling to leave a message for Matt Griffin. Matt, we need help. The IMAX in Atlanta is down and we've got people who drove from South Carolina just to attend it. This is supposed to be the big coming out weekend for IMAX, and it's in trouble.
We know you can do this. We see that you began your career in the mid-1980s as a systems integration manager. In the 1990s, you honed your professional and technical skills before becoming IMAX certified. This is some serious shit, Matt Griffin. You may hear us laughing in the background, but we're deadly serious. This is the 9/11 for the IMAX industry, and you need to be the hero. You're two hours away, you can be here in time. We will purchase you one large diet Coke and a package of Jujubees if we see you in the theater. Matt, please, get here, you're the only one with the skills to repair our broken dreams. This is it, this is the time to shine, to make your industry, your parents and yourself proud and fix our IMAX.
Help us Matt Griffin. You're our only hope.
And then we hung up. There was a sudden flash of hope in the small loft apartment as we all had a collective vision that somewhere, in an office park in Chelsea, Alabama, a goateed man in a button-down shirt had just hit a big red "GO" button on his desk and slid down a chute hundreds of feet below ground, landing in the seat of a rocket-propelled Honda Civic with a "PWNED" sticker on the back, zooming eastward to the rescue.
The rest of our day was nervousness and terror. What if Matt Griffin had already been called out to another job in another city? Did he have the superhero endurance to make it to Atlanta on time? Sure, he's IMAX certified, but the human body can only be pushed so far.
Shows were still being cancelled in Atlanta and we were unsure if we should even make the trip to the mall theater that night. When we arrived two hours before the show, the staff was still unsure if the overheated projector had been repaired.
In line under the hot lamps of the IMAX waiting room, we kept hoping to see a bearded fat man storming into the projector room with a sense of heroic purpose, a box of IMAX repair tools jangling noisily by his side. When we told the theater suits we had contacted the repair company in Chelsea, they nodded politely and said "that's nice," the way you'd turn away a child who told you they had collected 30 pennies to help save your house from foreclosure.
What if Matt Griffin truly wasn't the hero we had hoped all along?
After pushing the movie start time back half an hour, the fever broke and we were allowed in to the IMAX theater to claim our seats for The Dark Knight. The show went off without a hitch, except for the guys sitting next to me who kept talking about how balls awesome it would be to watch pornography in IMAX vision.
We stood up to leave, brains reeling from Christopher Nolan's stunning cinematic achievement. Surely Matt Griffin had come this night; why hadn't he sought us to claim his Diet Coke and revel in his triumph?
That's when we realized: a real hero doesn't need your reward or accolades. He can be the outcast.
Back in Chelsea, we hope Matt Griffin realizes the symbol of hope he is for us as he lies in wait, a bag of Cheetos at his side, listening for the call of citizens who need their hero again.