Monkey Business

A sign outside the "King Kong" auditorium screamed that cameras and cellphones were prohibited during the premiere. It would have been nice if someone had told us when we pre-ordered the tickets and before we drove 80 miles to the theatre with our cameras and cellphones in hand.

It seems Universal Pictures, distributor of "King Kong," felt us charitable types, who had forked over between $75-$500 each to attend this benefit, were vermin. Hey, thanks for the insult, Universal.

Yep, according to the crowd wranglers at the benefit, Universal was afraid we were going to record "King Kong," being the obvious thugs we all were. So, they hired security (guys in threatening ties) to make us trembly and assure no one duplicated the movie. I understand the concern, but obviously Universal never heard of a little something called The Real World!

"King Kong" will be copied and bootlegged on the streets worldwide in a heartbeat once it opens in thousands of unsecured cinemas. Get over it. It's gonna happen, if it hasn't already.

My friend Bill barged into the men's room. "Mike, Donna gave me your camera. Give me your cellphone. I'll take them to the car. No exceptions."

"Does Universal need a urine sample?" I asked. "I've got an extra."

Returning to the waiting line-up in the lobby, all the intrigue was explained to me. We would be denied admittance to the show if recording devices were discovered on our bodies, so dozens of innocent and expensive gadgets were abruptly and inconveniently transported to the good Samaritan audience's cars in the desolate upscale shopping mall parking lot in downtown Atlanta's crime zone at Christmastime after dark. Oh, the thought made me ever so comfortable.

"Camera phones are a problem," said an official. "Universal doesn't want any recording device inside the theatre."

"Universal thinks we're going to record a three-hour movie on eight seconds of cellphone memory?" I asked, nicely.

"I dunno," said the man.

"Maybe they're afraid we might call up Granny in the hospital and let her listen to ape killings until tapioca time?"

"Maybe. Anyway, folks, you will be wanded at the door."

"Will there be complimentary frisks?"

He turned away.

"Will our minds be erased as we exit?"

The warden shook his head and moved on to ruin other patrons' nights.

"What about artist renderings?" I yelled after him. "Can we have crayons and fingerpaints?"

"Did you bring enough for everybody?" he snapped back.

"Yeah. Enough for their middle fingers."

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Anonymous said...

You err slightly in your estimate of how soon copies of KK will be for sale on the streets or on the web. Most of this piracy is done by theatre employees who have the print and an auditorium to themselves. I predict that by 4AM on Wednesday morning, KK will already be in the public domain. This timeline allows for them to start their show at midnight, record all three hours of it and still leaves one hour for them to complete the crime. Since Disney wants theatres to start selling DVD's of movies that they are currently playing this could be a trial run. By 11AM Wednesday, some guy could be standing in front of the theatre selling copies to the patrons buying tickets to the first show. In what may be an effort to combat this, Universal is sending the prints to the theatres in two parts. Reel 9 arrived last night. Reels 1-8 will arrive today. This could also be the result of a mistake or omission in the credits that was noticed at the last minute. Just a note for any theatre employees who can not wait until March for the DVD: All prints are now coded, so if you are dumb enough to copy your owm print it can be traced back to your manager / projectionist. They can expect a visit from the fine people mentioned in the above post.

Mike Durrett said...

You are absolutely correct, sir. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to hear of "King Kong" bootlegs originating off the Universal lot. There have been stories over the years of Hollywood studios' employees selling early illegal copies of various blockbusters.

Speaking of Universal's renowned security, I'm reminded of the wonderful anecdote of how teenager Steven Spielberg repeatedly trespassed onto the Universal lot in Burbank, found an empty office, where he took up residence, posing as an employee.

Anonymous said...

If it makes you feel any better, they took Spielberg's cell phone away from him at the Ziegfeld prior to the War of the Worlds benefit.

Mike Durrett said...

Yeah, but I bet he had a personal assistant or two to hold onto his phone for him. Or it was a prop. Or CGI.

Rodney Olsen said...

I've seen the same thing happen at a couple of movie previews.

The moral of the story is, "If you're a thief who ransacks cars, do it outside a cinema that's showing a premmiere. You're sure to find lots of great loot in the cars."

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