While the terms movie piracy and cinema often appear in the same conversations, the connections are rarely positive.
Studios, distributors, and theaters believe that piracy represents an existential threat to their business models and nothing positive ever comes from it. But for actor and director Kevin Smith, aka Silent Bob from the Jay and Silent Bob movies, the accessibility of a pirated copy of his latest movie prevented his 50th birthday bash from turning into a complete disaster.
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot at the Drive-In
In 2019, Smith directed and starred in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. The comedy film, which enjoyed box office success, was due to be the centerpiece at Smith’s half-century celebrations this week.
Organized by friends, the movie was to be shown at Smith’s party at Paramount Drive-In, something the actor says he was looking forward to as he’d never seen one of his movies from the comfort of his own car before. But things didn’t go to plan.
The Reboot…Failed to Boot. Piracy To The Rescue
According to Smith, there were problems at the cinema. The venue’s DCP (Digital Cinema Package), which contains all the necessary files and systems which allow a movie to be shown to the audience, decided to break down, meaning that Silent Bob would have even less to say than usual, effectively ruining the event.
Luckily, however, it transpires that writer, filmmaker, and party guest Josh Roush is a bit of a whizz when it comes to disaster recovery, as Smith explains.
Double Feature at the Drive-In! Wanna take part in the post-screening Q&A? Tweet your question and a pic of the screen from your car – like this one – with the hashtag #DriveInMoobys! (Big thanks to @JoshRoush for the save when there were technical difficulties!) pic.twitter.com/znuRLbUGYb
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) August 4, 2020
“The drive-in’s DCP broke down so we would’ve had to cancel altogether were it not for @joshroush bringing a separate sound system and downloading a Torrent of #jayandsilentbobreboot off an illegal site,” Smith wrote on Facebook a few hours ago.
A World First For Torrents? Maybe…
Over the years, piracy has been connected to drive-in cinemas. People have been known to record entire movies from their cars and place them online but the environment has also proved convenient for those looking to grab film soundtracks, which are later combined with video recorded elsewhere.
At least as far as we’re aware, however, this is the first time that a pirated copy of a movie has actually been shown at a cinema in the United States. And surely, it must be the first instance where a pirated copy has been obtained from a torrent site to ensure that a director can enjoy his own movie and not have his 50th party ruined.
Phew…No One Got Arrested and Fun Times Ensued
The good news is that despite this potentially being some kind of terrible copyright crime in the eyes of the US Government, a good time was had by all, no one was arrested, and the director was glad that a pirate site saved his once-in-a-lifetime event.
“I know as a filmmaker I should be demonizing movie piracy – but last night, it saved our asses!” Smith says. “Many thanks to everyone for making the trip for my 50th, and for practicing safe social distancing and wearing masks in the process!”
Smith adds that the event went so well that he’s looking at “duplicating” the event with his live shows. Whether that means showing a pirated copy again isn’t clear but if the feds show up, he can credibly exercise his right to remain silent.