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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's a film, not Fort Knox

The events of 9/11 had the side-effect of making every American citizen in any kind of uniform feel that they could push their fellow citizens around with impunity. Now it seems the threat of piracy is having the same effect in the film industry, which has long been ground zero when it comes to self-importance.

I went to a preview of a picture last night. I can't tell you what it is because I had to sign a form promising that I wouldn't tell anybody about it for a couple of weeks (and particularly not by "blogging", note the inverted commas). There were a lot of people there and everyone had to hand in their mobile phones (or "anything which can capture sound or an image", as the blazered security people, ten in number, barked a little louder than was called for), then be electronically swept before being admitted to the theatre. Throughout the screening the security men stood at the back, sweeping the audience with night vision scopes in case anyone was recording anything. I'm not exaggerating.

If they're really that bothered about the threat of piracy that they have to put people through this tiresome, demeaning and presumably expensive ritual why not just put the bloody film out and let the critics come to their conclusion at the same time as the public? It might bother the odd magazine or newspaper but they'd soon get used to it. Either that or leave the process alone. If you want the hype around your release then you have to put up with the potential mischief that goes with it. The truth is that all the hoopla over pre-release windows has the effect of making all films and records seem far more significant than they are. A week after this film is released the very idea that anyone would bother to pirate it will seem laughable, a good deal funnier, in fact, than the film itself.

Gary Hamel says he stopped staying in hotels where the coat hangers were welded to the wardrobe because it was as if they were saying "welcome, thief". Know how he feels.