To hear it from loyal HE reader “Lipranzer,” a Manhattan screening tonight of Capitalism: A Love Story was projected slightly out of focus because the projector was using special night vision lenses to prevent people in the theater from recording the movie and then selling pirate copies. Unless, you know, the security guy who allegedly said this was full of shit. Here’s the story:
“Tonight I attended a screening of Capitalism: A Love Story at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square at West 68th Street and Broadway,” he begins. “Right away the trouble started. After the initial credits over a black screen, we saw out-of-focus images. I headed to the exit to complain. In the lobby I saw two men who’d been guarding the entrance and asked them to get somebody to fix the focus. I was happy to see another moviegoer who was also complaining. I went back to my seat expecting the problem to be fixed.
“A minute or two went by and the projection was still out of focus. I went back to the exit, and this time discovered one of the guards there, and he assured me someone had gone up to fix the problem. As I started back to my seat, I noticed the other guard standing near the back of the theater, as if to check when the film would be coming back on. There was no other theater worker with a walkie-talkie, which is usually what happens when there’s a projector problem.
“And when I got back to my seat, despite all the yelling from the audience, and despite my yelling a general obscenity (I don’t remember exactly what it was, but it was something along the lines of ‘fix the motherfucking projector!’), the film was STILL out of focus. Finally, after maybe 3 or 4 minutes, the film finally snapped into focus, to the cheers of the crowd. But near the end the film went slightly out of focus again — not completely, but enough so that people on screen were slightly hazy looking.
“After it was over I saw another moviegoer, a middle-aged man, complaining to those same two guards. He wasn’t raising his voice or anything, so I was surprised when I heard the one of the guards say that he was tired of this discussion and was ending it. The man turned to go in disgust, and I caught up to him and asked if they’d explained what the problem was. According to him, the guards had explained the projector was using special night vision lenses to prevent people in the theater from recording the movie and then selling pirate copies.
“I’m sorry, but this is one of the biggest pieces of bullshit I’ve ever heard. There seems to be two options here. If you’re a conspiracy theorist, the guard was telling a lie — on his own or on orders from his boss or bosses — so that people would leave the movie disgruntled and spread bad word-of-mouth about the film. If that was the aim, it probably won’t work — the audience seemed to be laughing at all the right places and quiet at all the right places, emotional when the moment called for it, and they clapped at the end. And as I was heading to the bathroom, I heard some of the other moviegoers talking and basically agreeing with Moore’s message.
The other option, of course, is the guard was telling the truth, and this was an attempt to curtail piracy.
“Whatever their intentions were, the people who ordered this and carried it out have committed a colossal act of stupidity. Do studios and movie theater owners really believe the way to get people to come see their movies, whether by spending their hard-earned money on it or going to screenings like this that are designed to build positive word-of-mouth, is to completely alienate their customers by purposely making the movie hard to watch?”
“I say no. I’m currently sending an abbreviated form of this message to Michael Moore himself, asking him, or his representatives, to contact other theaters showing his film to make sure this doesn’t happen again. And it might not be a good idea to stop going to movies at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square until they agree never to pull a stunt like this again. I agree in the total scheme of things, this bit of corporate malfeasance ranks pretty low, and this type of action I’m proposing ranks pretty low as well, but it’s a start. Don’t we as moviegoers deserve better?”