LOS ANGELES: Night-vision goggles, bag searches, and metal detectors are just a few of the security measures Hollywood studios are turning to at media and market-research screenings in an effort to stem digital piracy of new feature films.
In recent weeks, attendees at screenings - an almost daily occurrence for entertainment press in LA and New York - have found aggressive new measures in place to stop first-run films from appearing on the internet or hitting the streets as bootlegs before they are released in theaters.
Studios say that pirated content is most often traced to promotional screenings, and the new measures are necessary to prevent increasingly sophisticated and small recording devices from being smuggled into theaters.
"We've beefed up security at every screening. We'll do whatever we have to to secure these movies," said Fox's EVP of marketing Jeffrey Godsick, whose studio has security personnel with night-vision goggles wandering screenings to look for recording devices. "If piracy gets any bigger, there won't be any screenings to go to."
At a recent event for Warner Bros.' Dreamcatcher, media were asked to leave their cell phones in their cars, and had to pass through an airport-type bag search and metal detector. With the new tactics causing some delays, many members of the press expressed irritation, but were resigned to the necessity.
"Most of the press are very understanding, and we're trying to make it as painless as possible," said Warner Bros.' Barbara Brogliatti, SVP and chief corporate communications officer.
Brogliatti added that Warner Bros. is working on "an over-arching strategy" for screening security. "No two screenings will be the same," she explained.
The studios also banded together with the MPAA and other entertainment-industry organizations this month to create a legislative lobbying body called The Entertainment Industry Coalition for Free Trade, which is aimed at promoting free trade and worldwide piracy-prevention policies.