STOCKTON, CA - The highly-anticipated movie The Avengers opened at midnight Thursday, bringing in $18.7 million across the U.S.
Moviegoers stayed up late on a school and work night to catch the midnight showing in downtown Stockton. But after watching superheroes save the world, the fans were held captive by their parking garage.
Talk about a plot twist.
"The Avengers was good, but other than that, it was sitting in a parking garage for three hours," said Stockton resident Tyler Dugoni, who had appointments scheduled to repair computers Friday morning.
The movie got out after 2 a.m., but a combination of errors led to a real-life drama. Most of the people in the Coy Parking Garage couldn't leave until 5:30 a.m.
"We were at a crawl and my friend yelled 'We're on the second floor!'" Dugoni said. "Um, no. We're on the second and a half."
"It wasn't until the sun came up that they let people leave for free," Dugoni added.
Last month, Wells Fargo repossessed three city parking garages after city hall failed to pay its loan. The city's public parking garages didn't charge for late night movie parking, but the rules are now different. New signs read that restaurant and theater validations are no longer accepted.
Wells Fargo now owns the Coy Parking Garage on behalf of its bond holders, but Stockton City Hall still operates the garage until next week.
City Hall spokeswoman Connie Cochran said the hold up was a combination of a full garage, every driver wanting to get out at the same time and not many people realizing that they had to pay for parking.
Dugoni said at one point he got out of his car and asked the only attendant what holding up the exit.
"Their machines are old, so after 12 they have to enter everything manually and when people didn't have cash, they can't take credit cards," Dugoni said.
Stockton police received several calls from people claiming to be held against their will inside the garage, but since it's a privately owned garage, there was nothing police could do.
Stockton offers restaurant and movie theater parking validations at the SEM parking garage on El Dorado and Weber Avenues.