On Friday, I went to a big screen cinema inside of a shopping centre–a decidedly untourist-like thing to do–to see “The Dark Knight.” It was a warm day in London so I welcomed the air conditioning in the empty theatre thirty minutes before the screening. Silly me, expecting major crowds for a record setting movie one day after its release. However, before it started I was in convulsions brought on by the onset of hypothermia. That venue was downright cold.
There were various notices about making recordings and copyright infringement with dire warnings for those that would dare do these things, as though they were on even ground with murderers. I thought about how clueless the major movie studios are. Their own ineptitude encourages that behaviour. The Dark Knight was released in London on the 24th, which was a Thursday, an odd day for a release, a good week after its big money making North American premier. And I wonder why the delay? What possible reason could there be for it? It’s not as if they had to translate the film from English to English, so I’m at a loss to think of a reason for it apart from parading the actors around town for it (a pointless diversion for such a majorly marketed film). Hell, even Indonesia got the movie before the UK.
In that week, on the Internet, there were all sorts of geek orgasms proclaiming the greatness of the film, hundreds of reviews and news stories and thousands of “spoiler warnings” across the weblog and forum universe. Yet, in an English speaking country, no one could see it. Not legally, at least. It’s as though the studios don’t even want our money.
And that’s the thing. When I was in Aldgate earlier in the week one of the things I so clearly noticed was some Chinese guy peddling bootleg DVDs. “The Dark Knight” was the most prominent of them all. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted but I assumed it would have been Region 2 (which wouldn’t have worked on my MacBook; as I said, the studios do it to themselves) and I wasn’t sure about the quality of the recording. It’s hard to tell sometimes. I opted to see it on the big screen and pay the full, overpriced, admission cost for it.
After twenty minutes of adverts, I regretted the decision. That was then followed by another ten minutes of trailers, none of which were for movies that I’d want to see. That right there is the difference. The bootleggers? They’re admirable because they’re in it for the money. They charge what the market allows (not a whole lot) and get the product into the hands of the consumers as soon as they can with as few hurdles as possible. That seems like smart business to me. The movie studios and theatres? Fuck if I know what they’re doing, aside from making the whole idea of “watching a movie” a shivering test of patience that costs eight pounds. And after that, they complain about piracy? Next time I’ll stick with the bootleggers. It seems more honest.