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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Tuesday Twat(s)

No. 70. Film Distributers

This is a personal gripe that has really come into focus again with the delayed release of Superman Returns over here.

Years ago, there was almost always a long lag between a film being released in the US and its release on these shores. Various excuses were given, such as the different holiday traditions between the two countries - the July 4th weekend is traditionally a big one in the US for example. Another, less acceptable excuse, is the fact that it is cheaper to re-use the same rolls of film on both sides of the Atlantic. This is why, despite paying roughly the same, even on opening night it is not uncommon for the picture to be scratched and dirty. The universal adoption of digital is still some time away, so film is still going to degrade with use.

The reason that this annoys me so, is not just impatience - we've been waiting for a new Superman film since 1987, I can wait a little longer. It is a combination of both jealousy and the fact that I often quite like to be surprised by the ending of a film! I visit a number of websites and bulletin boards, many of which often have an "open gossip" forum where people can talk about anything that interests them, including films. Unfortunately, these boards are often filled with Americans who simply cannot grasp the fact that not everyone in the world sees a film at the same time. Think Homer Simpson turning to Marge outside a screening of The Empire Strikes Back announcing in a loud voice in front of the queue to go in "I can't believe that Darth Vader turned out to be Luke's father!". You get the idea. I confess that I tore a new arsehole for the prick who post a topic entitled "Snap Poll: Was it right to kill Data at the end of ST: Nemesis?" - 6 weeks before it came out in the UK. For fuck's sake...

But then along came broadband internet. Suddenly, it became possible for Joe Public to download low-quality copies of films within hours of them being released. Thank God, I say! Even though I have never downloaded a pirate film, nor do I intend to (I genuinely enjoy the cinema experience and have a rather low tolerance for poor quality pictures), Internet piracy has been one of the best things to happen in recent years. Why? Because it finally forced distributers to simultaneously release major pictures across the globe. Everything from X-Men 3 to Star Wars Episode III were released at exactly the same time, since it was guaranteed that copies of those films would be on peer-to-peer networks within hours of the film being shown.

But now, they've changed their minds again, claiming that simultaneous release allows people to film copies in UK cinemas. Um yeah, so what? Why does it matter where the film is copied - surely it's more important to reduce demand for illegal copies?

So now Superman Returns will be released 3 weeks late in the UK (and 2 months late in some territories). The only way it makes sense is if somebody in WB has shares in Bittorrent..




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