Although, as the article indicates, the real probems are at least as much within the distribution industry as they are with the viewing public: Spider-Man 3 vanquishes bootleggers — pdf
The Paris premiere for “Spider-Man 3″ was a hot-ticket blowout. Stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst were on hand for the late April screening, as were throngs of paparazzi. Once the movie began, the real fireworks started when Sony Pictures security guards spotted a premiere guest secretly recording the movie.
Even though the guest said that only one scene was taped, Sony wasn’t taking any chances. With actions that included urging some Canadian theaters to patrol their “Spider-Man” auditoriums with night-vision goggles and splitting up film cans sent to theaters in piracy havens such as China, Russia, Poland and Hungary, Sony launched an especially aggressive campaign to keep its expensive sequel off the black market ahead of the film’s worldwide release this week.
Sony’s multimillion-dollar security plan seems to have worked. Although the studio admits that bootleg copies of “Spider-Man 3″ could be available for sale and download as early as this weekend, the studio appears to have blocked the release of any illegal copies before the film landed in theaters. [...]
In part because unlawful versions were unavailable, “Spider-Man 3″ has broken a number of overseas box-office marks, topping single-day records held by the first two Peter Parker films. “No question about it, no question about it,” that the anti-piracy campaign augmented overseas ticket receipts, said Jeff Blake, Sony’s head of worldwide marketing and distribution.
[...] Sony’s anti-piracy efforts on “Spider-Man 3″ had four main prongs. First, the studio confiscated camera phones and patrolled theaters showing early screenings of the film (in addition to Paris, guards escorted someone out of the Madrid premiere for illicitly taping the film). Second, the studio encouraged some theaters in Canada â€” where as much as 40% of the world’s camcorded bootlegs originate â€” to add guards to showings. Third, it patrolled file transfer websites where pirated movies usually land. And finally, Sony refused to send single shipments of entire “Spider-Man 3″ film prints to theaters in a number of countries, instead breaking up the deliveries across several shipments.
“That way, no one has an entire print until opening day,” Blake said.
The idea behind split-reel delivery is to make sure that pirates have no access to a complete film at any step in shipping â€” including freight trucks and customs offices. Entire prints can be copied on a film scanner, or Telecine, yielding a nearly pristine copy.
And who takes seriously the claim that first week box office really has anything to do with the availability of illegal bootlegs?