Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This screener will self destruct in 10 seconds

We got to watch Young Adult last night, but it was a close call. For a moment there I thought the screener had destroyed itself.

As I've written about several times in the past, I have a friend who's in the Writer's Guild, who tries to either loan me one of his screeners, or watch one with me, every Christmas season. I was over at his house the other night, and I thought it would happen then, but the topic never came up. Then a couple days later he texted me and asked me if I'd seen Young Adult yet. A strange question, because it was the very day the movie was opening, and not even all that late in the evening. He said that he'd loan it to me when he saw me at one of two parties we were both planning to attend this past weekend.

Since my wife and I were both eager to see it, the DVD made its way into our BluRay player the very next night.

And was quickly ejected. Forcibly ejected.

The BluRay player attempted to read it, then spat it out. The screen flashed "Disc Error."

Uh oh.

Now, this has never been a problem in the past with his screeners. In fact, I know for a fact that his screeners have the potential for multiple viewings, because I've watched several of his movies that he'd already watched. In fact, I've even come into possession of one from about five years ago, and have watched that particular copy twice myself.

But there are warnings all over the disc that talk about prosecuting the person if the disc is found to have been uploaded to the internet and traced to this copy, and there are explicit instructions given for returning the disc to the studio if the recipient cannot agree to the viewing terms. (So let's hope no one is reading this who would have the motivation to trace things back to my friend. And if you are, hey, I'm a film critic, which means I might see an advanced free screening of this movie anyway.)

Plus there's an actual request for the recipient to physically destroy the movie by February 26, 2012. Yeah, like anyone actually does that.

Since I can't ever remember our BluRay player rejecting a disc, we thought there was a pretty good chance the disc had been designed to compromise itself once the film had already been screened once. But we tried to play it in my laptop anyway.

At which point it played through without a problem. Whew.

Well, there was one problem: I couldn't seem to get the DVD control menu -- which includes the volume, pause button, etc. -- to exit the bottom of the screen. I even took the disc out and reinserted it. That menu came on after I paused to adjust the volume, then it just wouldn't leave. For a second there we thought we'd have to pay this smaller price -- a distraction at the bottom of the screen for the duration of the running time -- for the right to watch this movie.

Turns out I just needed to move the cursor to anywhere on the top 80% of the screen.

Shows you how many movies I watch on my laptop.

As for the movie itself? Well, I know some of my readers are excited about this movie and would not want me to either confirm their excitement with a positive appraisal or curdle it with a negative one. Besides, as I learned from watching Charlize Theron on Jay Leno last night, the movie is only in limited release right now -- it doesn't even open nationwide until Friday.

So if I'm not going to give Paramount the money to see Young Adult in the theater, at least I'll help them out by maintaining a self-imposed reviewing embargo. You've probably heard about reviewing embargoes recently with regards to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, where Columbia Pictures was furious with David Denby of The New Yorker for posting his (positive) review in the magazine too many days before the movie was set to release.

Where that ranks as an offense next to unauthorized viewings of awards screeners, I'm not so sure.

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