A Captive Audience.

This is the FBI. We're here to annoy you. I don’t watch a lot of movies any more. I used to. There was a time that I’d go see 10 or 12 movies in a month, if I could. It would be easy to explain away my change in habit…I’m married, I’ve got a young daughter, my wife doesn’t like theatres (she doesn’t like the volume cranked up), theatre audiences are rude, tickets are too expensive, and on and on. But None of that explains why I don’t rent a lot of movies. No, I don’t have HBO, Skinemax, or Stars at home. In fact, I’ve got the equivalent of “expanded basic” on my satelite dish. Nope, the reason is the way movie studios choose to burn their DVDs. Strange, you say? Read on…

When you go to the theatre (which I do occasionally, mainly for my daughter’s sake) you’re forced to sit through not only trailers for upcoming flicks, but about 20 minutes worth of commercial messages. (!) Why? It can’t be that the theatres aren’t making enough money – with ticket prices as they are, I can’t get out of a movie with my daughter for less than $30, if we buy popcorn and soft drinks. You’d think you’d be immune to that kind of nonsense at home, but nooooooooo.

I rented Fantastic Four this weekend. Didn’t catch it in the theatres. Popped the DVD in, and was “treated” to the obligatory FBI warning, the Interpol warning, then a 30 second spot on how evil it would be to steal the movie (uh…guys…I just RENTED the bloody thing – you’re preaching to the CHOIR). You’d think that would be it, right. On to (skip over) the previews and then to the movie. Nope. This DVD was set up so that I couldn’t skip the previews. The menu button, along with the FFWD button had been disabled.

Pause with me for a nanosecond.

Consider this. It is fundamentally stupid to force me to watch the flippin’ FBI warning. If I want to steal the movie, I certainly could – I own a DVD burner, and the expertise to do so. I choose not to, because it’s A)wrong to steal, B) a pain in the Alice B. Tookas to steal, and C) takes too much time/effort to steal. Don’t bore me with a lecture. I’M not your problem. It is fundamentally evil to force me to watch previews of movies. (At least at the theatre, I can show up late and miss the bloody things.)

I’d like to get my mitts around the neck of the smarmy son-of-a-sea-cook that came up with the idea of enabling DVD mastering software to prevent viewers from fast-forwarding through crap I don’t want to watch. This is the moral equivalent of putting some lame 30 second Flash intro on your website, forgetting to add a “skip” button, and disabling the browser nav buttons.

Hollywood wonders why movie attendance is down. DVD rentals are too. Perhaps if they treated their customers as if they respected them, rather than as if they simply wanted them to open their wallets on cue, they’d get people back to watching movies. Then again, I’m perfectly happy to curl up with a good book…

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