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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » Somebody isn't happy with Lionsgate (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Somebody isn't happy with Lionsgate
Brad Miller

Posts: 17695
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 11-18-2015 09:43 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post


submitted by TyGuy1882

I'm a projectionist for a movie theater in a small town. Every movie we receive from every studio arrives a few days before its release date, I put the hard drive in the projector, and download the movie, it's all very easy. We receive an email at least 2 days before the release date containing a digital key that unlocks the film for a certain amount of time. It's my job to test the movies and make sure the lighting and sound is perfect.

Disney, Universal, Warner Bros, New Line Cinema, every single movie studio gives us access to their new movies by Wednesday at midnight, giving me two days to make sure everything is perfect for opening night, every company except Lionsgate.

For context, Mockingjay officially releases this Friday, but legally we are allowed to show the film Thursday at 7 PM, not only that, but we also agreed to show Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2 as a marathon on Wednesday.

We received the hard drive on Tuesday afternoon, which is totally understandable, it's pushing it, but I can program and test 2 movies in one night, its not my first day on the job. They send us a digital key unlocking Part 1 at like 3:40 A.M. Tuesday which will lock up again Wednesday at 11:59 P.M., they we're being a little over protective of a movie that got mediocre reviews over a year ago, but it's fine. I test Part 1 last night, everything is perfect, and I open up to Part 2 only to discover that it's still locked up.

They didn't unlock the movie at midnight, they unlocked it at NOON, on Wednesday, the DAY we are showing the double feature. Noon gives me four hours to test the movie before I manage the theater for the double feature, four hours to make sure the movie is prepared when the movie itself is almost 2 1/2 hours. So assuming absolutely nothing goes wrong, I'm cutting it really fucking close. They are protecting Mockingjay Part 2 like the Ark of the Fucking Covenant.

Guess what, it locks again, at midnight. It is unlocked for 12 hours. We start our official showing of Mockingjay Part 2 at around 8:30 P.M., meaning the movie ends about 1 hour before it locks up, what if we have any issue whatsoever? It unlocks again at 5 PM Thursday, but with a new key, meaning on my day off, I need to go to the theater, download the key, and reinstall it for a movie we already showed, just to reduce the chances of piracy.

I'm so fucking close to video taping the movie and uploading it online in perfect quality just to piss off Lionsgate, they are making my job way more complicated then it needs to be, when every other company has the decency and common sense to give us time to make sure their movie is being presented as well as it can be.

This is the end of Hunger Games, and I really hope movie theaters stop doing business with them, our theater is already really cautious with accepting movies from them because they treat theaters like shit.

Update: Oh my fucking God. I expected like 2 comments.

OBVIOUSLY I'M NOT GOING TO UPLOAD THE MOVIE ON THE INTERNET. I was trying to be funny, but people are sending me hate mail and trying to get me fired from my job.

And of course the replies are out of control.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12492
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 11-18-2015 10:21 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
He just learned the #1 lesson of the internet:

Don't say anything you don't want to be taken seriously, UNLESS you put a big old disclaimer right underneath your statement.

I have a hard time believing his theater is being "cautious" with accepting movies from Lionsgate though. If it's a hit, they're going to play it no matter what kind of a pain in the butt the studio is. (Well maybe he was joking about that too.) I haven't noticed any bad treatment from them although I agree the key thing is pretty stupid. Keys in general are stupid.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 7130
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000

 - posted 11-18-2015 10:39 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: article
Noon gives me four hours to test the movie before I manage the theater for the double feature, four hours to make sure the movie is prepared when the movie itself is almost 2 1/2 hours.
So his idea of pre-show testing is to watch the entire show in real time?! Good job he doesn't work in an arthouse/rep theater like ours, which shows two different movies every night. If it ingests and passes the verification without reported errors, I can't see why there would be any need to do more than spot check two or three 2-3 minute clips from random points within the DCP.

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John Roddy
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 114
From: Spring, TX, United States
Registered: Dec 2012

 - posted 11-19-2015 12:01 AM      Profile for John Roddy   Author's Homepage   Email John Roddy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Lionsgate is usually pretty chill with keys. But it's their precious cash cow, they are not going to hold back. It's better to make life as difficult as possible for the exhibitors--the only people allowing their movie to be viewed in the first place--if the payoff is a guaranteed reduction in piracy. I've often wondered which dimension this studio originated in, but that type of logic doesn't work here. It's certainly a possibility that some employee is going to tape the movie and post it online for everyone to see (and more importantly, not purchase). But more often than not, this isn't the exhibitor's fault. Did the theaters have anything at all to do with the Expendables 3 leak? The only "lesson" they learned is that piracy of any sort will ruin everything. What, you're suggesting that the movie being several levels of mediocre, rated PG-13 instead of the R it desperately needed (have we learned NOTHING from Die Hard?), or the fact that hype in general just wasn't really there anymore might have had something to do with it as well? Sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of piracy destroying my precious studio.

To add on to this rant, consider our ATMOS shows. Not many theaters can do that for the Mocking Lionsg--I mean Jay marathon. Yet, Deluxe (likely at the mercy of Lionsgate) could not get us keys for it at all. We ended up having to run the regular 5.1 version in a house capable of and fully optimized for ATMOS. And it's not like we can contact Deluxe about this. They're already backed up with calls from every other theater having similar problems.

I just don't see why it's so hard to give one set of keys for the entire feature (none of this reel-1 ONLY crap) that activate the day before. Give plenty of time to run a full test. Let the employees get an early peak at it. Two birds with one stone. Well, more of a giant boulder. Against two baby doves. But still. This isn't where piracy comes from. Restricting the hell out of EVERYTHING is what gives piracy the speed boost that hurts way more than it could've by default. In the wise words of Lord GabeN, "Piracy is a service problem." And the service here leaves a LOT to be desired.

Sorry, a rant was inevitable there.

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John Thomas
Film Handler

Posts: 61
From: Northville, MI, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

 - posted 11-19-2015 12:03 AM      Profile for John Thomas   Email John Thomas   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For one of the Twilight movies the digital IMAX version unlocked at like 6:00PM for 9:00PM first show. Somebody had made a mistake with the audio channels such that the VI narration track ("Bella falls into Edward's arms! Jacob takes his shirt off!") was coming out of center channel. IMAX had to put a patch together and then remote login to install it on every system before showtime.

Anyway, it's not like this is a new thing for studios. Locks on film cans with combinations faxed on Thursday were pretty commonplace with 35mm. If you messed up building a print or didn't catch a lab issue because of the time crunch then MAYBE you'd have reason to curse the studio.

But this guy crying about not getting to watch a movie straight through, on the clock, when he has the tools to verify the ingest and skip around the movie is just silly.

And the thing about pirating just solidifies his stupidity, because he literally just embodied the reason the studios give such tight windows with KDM's in the first place. I'm actually beginning to think the whole thing was a troll post now...

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2135
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004

 - posted 11-19-2015 12:34 AM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Saying he was thinking about uploading the movie was a huge mistake, but I am with him on most of what he said. This has turned out to be the most unnecessary clusterfuck of a release.

Besides the content not arriving until the day before the showing and the keys not being good until noon on the day of the showing, they did two different sets of keys - one for the double feature, and one for the regular release. Plus there is another set of keys for each of the two special clips that go with the double-feature, and another set of keys for the test reel.

Sure, it's plenty of time as long as everything goes right. But if anything is wrong, there is almost no margin to get a replacement before the movie opens. To top it all off, their email servers got backlogged when sending out the regular feature keys today.

Lionsgate only does this for their major releases. They do like most other studios for titles that are not Hunger Games or Twilight.

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Frank Cox
Film God

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From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011

 - posted 11-19-2015 01:26 AM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm a believer in watching the entire movie from A to Z to verify that it's correct before showing it to the public.

Why? A few years back I had one that played in the wrong order! Just like if I had mixed up the reel order on a 35mm print. I discovered this on Thursday afternoon and they emailed me a new file of some kind (I can't remember if it was a key or something else, but it wasn't very big) and I could then play the movie in the proper order.

So don't believe anyone who says that checking the first ten minutes of the show is good enough. I'm here to tell you that it's not.

I watch all of my movies, all by myself, the day before I play them for the public. And it's save my butt a few times.

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Martin Murray
Film Handler

Posts: 69
From: ennis tx
Registered: Sep 1999

 - posted 11-19-2015 05:08 AM      Profile for Martin Murray   Email Martin Murray   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
He should hire the Film-Tech NOC to handle everthing for him so he's not so stressed. [Wink]

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Dave Bird
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 756
From: Perth, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Jun 2000

 - posted 11-19-2015 10:00 AM      Profile for Dave Bird   Author's Homepage   Email Dave Bird   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Agreed Martin, 4 years so far with zero issues. Sometimes I'll get a call from one of the studios to ask if I've previewed a film, which of course a drive-in can't really do when open 7 days. I've played one or two for myself on nights we're closed just for fun, but best we can usually do is watch closely on Fridays.

In fact, the only major issue I ever had was when I brought back an 8 or 9 reel Spider-Man as a bonus. Having played it for 2 weeks earlier in the summer, I was quite familiar with it and I swore a scene was missing the second go round. Too stupid or tired to check, I decided that I must've mixed it up with one of the other sequels. Sure enough, while breaking it down, there was reel 5, or 6, or something still in the can. Boy did I feel like a jerk!

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Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Dec 2006

 - posted 11-19-2015 10:02 AM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The issue that I have with Lionsgate is that that they are one of the
slower companies to pay me when I bill them for their private screenings.
They're not the worst, but they're '2nd from the bottom' of my list.

(Warner Bros & Fox are the best! They're quick-to-pay and the people
I deal with at those companies are great)

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Jonathan Althaus
Master Film Handler

Posts: 435
From: Bedford, TX
Registered: Dec 2008

 - posted 11-19-2015 10:14 AM      Profile for Jonathan Althaus   Email Jonathan Althaus   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've been out of the business for 3.5 years, but I dealt with short KDM windows from just about every studio. It just became something you learned to deal with. Same with 35mm prints being hot-shotted to the theatre, arriving at 9am on a Friday for a 10:30am showing

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Sean Weitzel
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 611
From: Vacaville, CA (1790 miles west of Rockwall)
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 11-19-2015 11:19 AM      Profile for Sean Weitzel   Email Sean Weitzel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A quick aside - This thread is a great example of why there is a rule that content from the internet must be quoted in the post for archival purposes. Looks like the original poster in the Reddit link deleted his rant and his account. Thankfully Brad quoted the content in the original post.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001

 - posted 11-19-2015 11:30 AM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The KDM thing is pretty stupid. I think some studios release this and try to do right by theaters by unlocking the movie at least a few days in advance.

This nonsense about keeping the movie locked right up until just before showtime is only very foolhardy. It cries out for "Murphy" to rear his ugly head and do something to botch the first shows. For a highly anticipated movie, such as a Hunger Games installment, showing Thursday night sneak previews to a long line of customers waiting in the lobby and streaming outside, there's absolutely no room for error. If anything goes wrong the theater gets all the blame, not the dip-shit studio people being stupid with KDMs.

The situation is infected with hypocrisy. The studios have theater personnel jumping through hoops to protect security of their DCPs. But the same studio can't keep track of its screener DVDs and Blu-ray discs. They get uploaded to various torrent sites as much as month before the movie opens -often in great quality and 5.1 surround sound. But the theaters still get treated as though they're the only source for piracy.
[Roll Eyes]

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Marco Giustini
Film God

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From: Reading, UK
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 - posted 11-19-2015 11:49 AM      Profile for Marco Giustini   Email Marco Giustini   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I used to screen all my 35mm movies to make sure they were ok, too many things could go wrong.
On Digital I don't know. I'm not a projectionist anymore but if I was I think I'd be happy to screen, say, 20 minutes of feature to assess the proper fader level and then skip 15 minutes at a time to make sure all was still there.

To be fair, I've heard of instances where there was a mastering issue and some green flashes were played back randomly when the decoder crashed for some non-DCI frames.

I feel the customer deserves the highest quality possible and that the feature should be 100% screened but with digital maybe we could compromise as I said.

While just ingesting the movie will probably lead to a flawless presentation, I feel that the fader level cannot be just guessed or set to a standard value - usually 5.5.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000

 - posted 11-19-2015 12:06 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My DCP spot check procedure is the first 3-5 minutes, the last 3-5 minutes, and a 3-5 minute section chosen from a random point in the middle, plus a second section if the movie is a long one and/or I don't like anything I see or hear.

Yesterday, for example, I checked one and wasn't happy with the lip sync, so I played a few more clips chosen at random, moving from the front to the back of the house and playing a sync test DCP and a couple of other "known good" clips for sync in between to get clear in my mind whether I believed there to be a sync issue with the DCP or not (I concluded that there probably was, and reported it to our programmer).

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