I Confess: Cineplex Drove Me to Piracy
By CheeseburgerBrown in Meta
Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 10:29:05 PM EST
Tags: bittorrent, movies, piracy, IP rental, DVD, theater, cineplex, rant (all tags)
Seeing motion pictures exhibited in film projection theatres is a dying tradition which we will one day tell our grandchildren about in order to bore them.
The causes of this death are obvious to many consumers, but mystify movie studios and exhibitors alike.
What follows is an open letter to the proprietors of Cineplex Entertainment LP, carbon copied here to you, the K5 community, in order that you may share in my vitriol.
Dear Cineplex mongoloids,
This past weekend my wife and I visited one of your cinemas with the intention of seeing Guillermo del Toro's dark fantasy picture, Pan's Labyrinth. As you may know, Pan's Labyrinth is a Spanish-language feature showing with English subtitles in North America.
During the quarter hour of commercials that began playing at showtime I was chagrined to note that the quality of the picture was very poor: fuzzy, mingled with bits of hair and dust, and sporadically losing registration. Never the less, we had paid over $20 between the two of us to see Pan's Labyrinth on the big screen so we hoped things would improve once the feature began.
Once it did begin, however, my wife and I and the audience of which we formed part were confused when it seemed that only every alternate of dialogue had been subtitled. Worse still, those incomplete subtitles were being projected on the floor below the screen.
As the film progressed two things became clear: 1) the projection was so badly misframed that the missing half of the subtitles couldn't even be seen splayed blurrily across the floor, but must have in fact been being displayed on the inside of the projection booth; and 2) nobody was interested in this situation other than those of us in the theatre -- the booth was unmanned, or manned by someone with severe mental and/or visual handicaps.
I left the theatre and asked the retarded girl by the velvet ropes how we might go about remedying the situation. This question (and simplified variants thereof) caused her bewilderment and fear despite the fact that I'm not a very intimidating guy. She said my wife and I would have to go the main box office to complain.
At the main box office we were obliged to stand in line behind a herd of patrons buying tickets for the next show. When we finally did arrive at the cashier the manager interrupted our complaint to assure us that the problem could easily be fixed. "So, are you going to start the movie over again?" I asked.
The manager looked as hurt and confused as the poor retarded girl had. "I'm sorry?" he said.
I repeated my question.
"Oh no," he said, "we can't do that."
"Well then, we'll have our money back please."
"I'll have somebody fix it in a jiff," insisted the manager.
"Yes, but we've already missed most of the first act, haven't we?" I pointed out. "We paid over ten dollars each to see this movie on the big screen, and you're telling me that you mangled the beginning but you have no intention whatsoever of making good on our moviegoing experience?"
"No, no," argued the manager. "You can have your money back."
I sighed, drawing my hand wearily down my face. "Fine. Thank you."
The manager rushed off to supervise of the correction of the movie's framing while the cashier attempted to give us our money back. I handed her our transaction receipt, which she looked at as if it were covered in alien glyphs. "Where are your tickets?" she asked.
"I guess they're in the theatre. There's my receipt."
"You'll have to go back to the theatre to get them."
"I can't process a refund without your tickets."
My wife groaned. "Surely the receipt proves we paid for the movie. I mean, that's what a receipt is for."
"Yeah, but it doesn't have the special bar code I need to scan or the computer won't let me do anything," explained the cashier.
"You expect us to fish around in a dark theatre to find two slips of paper under our seats?" I asked.
"Well," said the cashier, experiencing a brainwave, "or I could get my manager to issue you two free passes."
"Fine. I don't care. Do it."
The manager, of course, was busy supervising the reframing of the bungled movie. When he got back the entire situation was explained to him afresh, at which point he issued us two free passes to see another attempt at showing a movie at this or any other Cineplex location in Canada. "No, I want my money back," I pressed.
"The computer won't let me do that, sir," said the manager.
"Not a lot of dignity in your job, is there?" snapped my wife. "You're junior to a PC."
"I don't make the rules, ma'am," said the manager.
I snorted. "You guys really don't get it, do you?" I said, shaking my head.
"What?" said the manager, furrowing his brow.
"You expect us to pay $20 to see a movie once in the theatre instead of waiting a couple of months to pay $25 to own a copy on DVD. All we ask you to do is to show the movie big and clear, so it looks better than on our TV at home -- and you can't even do that right. The picture's fuzzy and you don't even care enough to have somebody check that it's projecting properly. And when it turns out that it isn't projecting properly all you're prepared to offer us is the opportunity to be similarly screwed by your incompetent operation again in the future. And you ninnies wonder why profits are down?"
"Like I said, sir, we're prepared to give you these passes --"
"I don't want passes," I reiterated. "Don't you get it? We're not coming back here again. We're going to go home, download a screener DVD of the movie over BitTorrent, and then watch it at home. For free. Where we can pause it any time we want to go the washroom or fix a snack. That's what you're competing against."
"Listen, if you want to engage in illegal activities that's not really my issue."
"Are you giving us our fucking money back or not?"
"Sir, there's no need to --"
"Are you giving us our fucking money back, or not?"
Other would-be patrons in line were staring. The manager turned pink, looked at his shoes, then went to the til and gave us our money back. "I'm sorry you had an unfortunate experience here today," he mumbled.
So we went home and started downloading a DVD screener of Pan's Labyrinth. The download was complete by the following evening, so we burned a DVD, curled up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn, and enjoyed watching our movie with a crisp picture and subtitles visible from the start.
The movie was good, so I'll consider buying a licensed version of the DVD when it comes out in a couple of months in order to support Guillermo and the folks at Picturehouse. I will not, however, consider throwing my money away at Cineplex again.