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Prepare To Be Watched While You Watch a Movie 433

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-see-what-you-did-there dept.
BussyB writes "Gaining entry to some movie theaters lately gives patrons an experience that is on par with going through a TSA security checkpoint at the airport. Then once you've gained access, there are cameras strategically positioned that record your every move. Unfortunately, the extent to which these companies monitor movie-goers is only going to get worse."
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Prepare To Be Watched While You Watch a Movie

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  • by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:46AM (#34109952) Journal

    Only, this time it's "Who watches the watchers?"

  • by DynamoJoe (879038) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:47AM (#34109954)
    On the upside, Hollywood keeps turning out crap so I feel like I'm not missing much by waiting for the movie to come out on video.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Himring (646324)
      This'll just make me stop going to the movie theater, cuz if I feel like they're watching me pour rum into my diet coke, in order to tolerate their bad movies, then I just ain't goin. And I'm pretty sure the flare from my pipe will be picked up by these cameras too....
      • by BeanThere (28381) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @10:08AM (#34110856)

        There are still movie theaters? I stopped going long ago. From all the people talking on their cellphones and talking to one another during the movie, to sticky floors and sitting on someone's old dirty popcorn etc., I'd much rather watch at home, I have a decent screen and sound system, I can pause whenever I want, watch whenever I want, I can rewind if I accidentally missed something or stopped concentrating, and I don't even have to get my ass out my chair and get dressed and sit in traffic etc. Not to mention the prices, and the overpriced snacks and limited snack choices. Perhaps if I cared about being more social and wasn't basically a hermit it would be a different story.

        • by mlts (1038732) * on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @10:35AM (#34111342)

          Go to a theater that doesn't suck. I've seen security at an Alamo Drafthouse franchise remove cellphone yappers quite quickly. Then find something decent on the menu and your beverage of choice and kick back. If you have to go use the restroom, there is plenty of space to duck under the table and go down the aisle.

          Going to the Alamo is a nice change from the neighborhood watering hole.

    • by 2.7182 (819680)
      I know what you mean. Forget modern movies - if you want to see a well-made classic, try "Dirty Dancing". Pinnacle of movie making.
    • by WankersRevenge (452399) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:18AM (#34110236)
      My wife and i started to go to drive-in when my daughter was born and while the quality isn't super duper imax 3D, there's nothing quite like laying on the hood of my car and sipping a beer or laying out on blanket with a radio besides us. Next summer, we're picking up a portable grill to get a little tailgating action going on. Honestly, I see no reason to go back to the traditional theaters. The experience is just too miserable for the money plus, we're guaranteed to see our drive-in movie in 2D which for me is worth the price of admission (I get headaches after awhile, plus the 3D glasses never fit right over my own glasses - chafing the shit out of my nose)
  • The bigger problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:49AM (#34109968) Homepage

    The bigger problem we're facing with corporate practices like this is that, when the revolution comes, we won't have a wall big enough to put all these marketing departments against. We should really start to prioritize who will be first, and who goes second, third, etc.

    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      The bigger problem we're facing with corporate practices like this is that, when the revolution comes, we won't have a wall big enough to put all these marketing departments against. We should really start to prioritize who will be first, and who goes second, third, etc.

      There's an app for that. Unfortunately, it's patented.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      The bigger problem we're facing with corporate practices like this is that, when the revolution comes, we won't have a wall big enough to put all these marketing departments against.

      No, the biggest problem is that you will be so heavily monitored by both corporate and government interests (often using the same gear) that you could never hope to get a revolution off the ground.

      You can't revolt against Bog Brother, because they watch your every move. Welcome to the dystopian future of a full-time surveillanc

      • by Gizzmonic (412910)

        You can't revolt against Bog Brother

        Bog Brother: Swamp Thing's lesser known brother.

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Bog Brother: Swamp Thing's lesser known brother.

          Oh god, I can't believe I made that typo. That's freakin' hilarious.

          Or, maybe it's like that Senator in the mens room at the airport? ;-)

    • The Bikini Atoll would be a large enough wall. Let's ship them there.

      "Only way to be sure..." and all that.
  • by happy_place (632005) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:50AM (#34109974) Homepage
    Hey, this can't be all bad... With video feedback, perhaps movie professionals could automate audience reactions to various scenes, and systematically improve their movie products. Also murders within theaters could go down... and when the couples in the corner start making out, maybe the theater employees would grab some popcorn and get a good show. See? It's not all bad... being watched all the time. Ahem.
  • Things tend to be locked down fairly tight around here (Montgomery County, MD)...but I've NEVER encountered anything like this while going to the movies. Sure, I've seen people walk in during opening night to make sure no one is taping the damn thing, but you don't have to go through a security checkpoint or any of that nonsense.

    Has anyone?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:57AM (#34110054)
      I had a man pat me down and perform a full cavity search, but theater management called the police and had him escorted out. Does that count?
    • The theaters around here are usually guarded by some pimply faced 16 year old, or some special needs individual. I've had the kids get all guardian of the gate on me when I tried to bring a drink that I hadn't finished from the place I just ate at, but otherwise its never been an ordeal. Although I've caught a couple advanced screenings and they are definitely a little more protective there, understandably. Although, early or not the quality of those recorded videos is never worth the couple hours they take
    • Re:Uh...what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by somersault (912633) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:21AM (#34110248) Homepage Journal

      Just a couple of days ago I was watching a movie, and an attendant came in with what must have been a night vision camera and scanned the room with it :/

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Things tend to be locked down fairly tight around here (Montgomery County, MD)...but I've NEVER encountered anything like this while going to the movies. Sure, I've seen people walk in during opening night to make sure no one is taping the damn thing, but you don't have to go through a security checkpoint or any of that nonsense.

      Has anyone?

      At a recent Tron preview, a friend said they had to fork over all recording devices and cell phones into a coat-check room.

    • by KarrdeSW (996917)
      Prince George's County here, and I'm pretty sure I could be robbed at gunpoint in my local theater without ever seeing an employee, much less security.
  • The people watching the movie...are the movie. It's reality TV, taken to the next level. How many seats will the fat guy in Row 7 take? The tall guy in Row 4...will the 11-year-old in Row 5 be able to see over his head? What about the teenagers in the back...will they make it to second base? Is the projectionist smoking weed? It's a totally new, totally immersive film experience, connecting with the audience on an entirely new level. It's just like being there. Because, well, you are there.

  • by amaiman (103647) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:53AM (#34110002) Homepage
    From the article: "Within the cinema industry this tool will feed powerful marketing data that will inform film directors, cinema advertisers and cinemas with useful data about what audiences enjoy and what adverts capture the most attention"

    Hint: We don't enjoy the adverts, especially after paying almost $12 for a ticket. Perhaps if the whole audience gives the camera the finger through all of the ads, they will get the message? :-)
    • by crovira (10242) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:04AM (#34110100) Homepage

      Marketing surveys suffer from remarkably selective attention; sort of like asking "When did you stop beating your wife?" reveals a certain prejudice.

      Instead of noticing that we loathe any and all of the ads, they are going to ask: "Which one did you enjoy the most?"

      This assumes that we enjoyed any of the ads.

      We don't, but that's not what they're measuring is it...

      • by quacking duck (607555) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:12AM (#34110174)

        Instead of noticing that we loathe any and all of the ads, they are going to ask: "Which one did you enjoy the most?"

        This assumes that we enjoyed any of the ads.

        We don't, but that's not what they're measuring is it...

        Elections usually run on the same principle. Why should marketing surveys be any different?

      • "When did you stop beating your wife?"
        I have never beaten my wife.

        "Which of these adverts did you enjoy the most?"
        I did not enjoy any of the adverts.

        Whoa, really had me on the ropes with that one!
  • Are they looking for people dropping litter, those with large hats blocking the view from those behind them. Or maybe they are just voyeuristic and want to watch the activities of couples in the back row.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Oidhche (1244906)
      They're going to show 2girls1cup and record viewers reactions, then make a new movie from that footage.
    • The cinema is actually the only place that I'm happy to leave litter.. I know people are going to come and clean up the place anyway, so why not leave my empty bottle there? Just like I don't clean my own dishes from the table at a restaurant.

      Considering the price of cinema tickets, they should also have sanitised adapters at every seat where you can relieve yourself so as to not miss anything. Maybe I should get two in one and just use my drinks receptacle next time.

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:53AM (#34110008)
    We'll send to JAIL those criminal masterminds who bring their own chocolate to the theater!!!
  • Just wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symes (835608) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:55AM (#34110024) Journal
    This is a gross invasion of privacy - I would expect to be informed of any recording at the time I purchase the ticket, who was making the recording and to what purpose they were being used. I would also expect that I could opt out at that time and at any time in the future without penalty. If the only choice I have is to no longer visit cinemas, then so be it. Either that or I might have to find a certain mask [forbiddenplanet.co.uk] to wear.
    • by netsavior (627338)
      where do you buy your groceries? I haven't been in a grocery store without cameras for decades. Where do you buy your gas? Get your prescriptions filled?
      • Re:Just wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bmo (77928) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:22AM (#34110262)

        There are typically signs that say that there are cameras. Indeed, in the Wallgreens down the road, there is a TV monitor facing the doors as you walk in just to say "Yes, if you shoplift, we've got tape"

        This? This isn't about shoplifting. There are also no signs or any indication that this is going on.

        That's the difference.

        --
        BMO

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Seumas (6865)

          And those security tapes are usually rotated rather than archived, sold, distributed, analyzed, etc.

    • Agreed, its a freaking movie theater not a top secret government building.
    • Well if the movie was "Rocky Horror" then the audience wearing masks would be expected!

    • Re:Just wrong (Score:4, Informative)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:52AM (#34110626) Homepage Journal

      This is a gross invasion of privacy - I would expect to be informed of any recording at the time I purchase the ticket, who was making the recording and to what purpose they were being used.

      That's the law in Illinois. Any theater owner who implimented this here would be committing a felony unless signs were posted.

  • I will then just stop going in movie theater. DVD comes anyway sooner and sooner after the theatrical show, and it is now much better with friends to be together at a home with a big screen for a movie evenning.
  • by netsavior (627338) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:56AM (#34110040)
    In 1995 I had a summer job as an employee of Buena Vista (the company that releases Disney's major animated pictures). My job? Auditing movie theaters by counting the people attending and comparing to the ticket sales, ensuring that during the screening, nobody was taking pictures or using other recording devices (if they were, we had an off duty police officer on site working security).

    The buena vista hit squad (as we called ourselves) was nothing new when I joined up.

    Fast forward to my weekend job as second shift manager of a movie theater while I was in college (1999) we had 2 "crowd cameras" at every screen, you could see the entire audience the whole time the movie was going, we used it to bust people who decided that the movie theater was an apropriate place to have sex (including some employees after hours *eyeroll*).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      There is a huge difference. You didn't digitally record the audience for all posterity. The information on those screenings is lost forever.The recordings from this company's product will be kept forever.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rickb928 (945187)

      I used to check theaters back in the 80s, for an outfit that had contracts to verify audience numbers, etc. I had the rare privilege of checking the only room in North America that showed the opening night of Empire Strikes Back and did not sell out according to the sales they reported to the studio. This is fraud. Today, the ticketing systems are too regimented to be cheated on, and checkers are very very rare indeed.

      I did not ever see recording equipment, but I did count those who jumped from one room

  • by Pigamagrundy (1934120) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:59AM (#34110070)
    Is it unethical to wear a mask to a horror film?
  • by Stu101 (1031686) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:03AM (#34110094) Homepage

    I know price has already been mentioned but my wife and I went to the cinema last week. Everywhere signs about the right of the cinema to search bags etc. That was bad enough, but once we had been vetted for snacks, we purchased some. By the time we had some snacks (Nachos, popcorn and 2 colas), and the cinema tickets, we had spent about $70.

    I think in future, I will just stay home. Treated like crap and ripped off, and now VIDEOD like a common thief. No thanks. It's almost like they are trying to make me pirate stuff so they can sue me ;)

    • I'm curious. If they put up a sign that says they have the right to search your bag, do they actually have that right?
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        I'm curious. If they put up a sign that says they have the right to search your bag, do they actually have that right?

        It's private property with an absurd EULA. In all likelihood, they do.

        Welcome to a world where the rights of copyright holders place them on par with law enforcement. Did you miss the memo?

        • by RMH101 (636144) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:29AM (#34110352)
          Not necessarily. I can put up a sign in my shop saying I have the right to punch you in the face, but I'd get arrested if I did it...
          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Not necessarily. I can put up a sign in my shop saying I have the right to punch you in the face, but I'd get arrested if I did it...

            No, but saying that if they continue to stay on the premises after they've read the sign and had an opportunity to ponder it means that they've accepted the terms of the contract. Then you punch them in the face. ;-)

            According to them (and I really have no idea of what case law in most places says about this) if you choose to stay on the premises, you are subject to search. I

      • by Whalou (721698)
        That's nothing! TSA now has the right to pat your bag (http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/10/31/0234232 [slashdot.org]).
    • I feel the same way. Except, Hollywood doesn't make anything worth the effort to pirate. The last movie I went to see in the theaters was LOTR: Return of the King. I may go to the theater for the Hobbit (but unless my wife makes a big deal about going to the theater, I will wait for it to come out on DVD)
    • by AndrewNeo (979708)

      If you're buying all the extra snacks you have nobody to blame but yourself for the reason you spent so much to go to the theater! Have dinner before the movie, or something. Now it should cost (hopefully) only $20 at most for two people. Problem solved.

    • Are we talking US dollars here? Because I am just not seeing how this supposed "about $70" is even possible.

      Tickets at IMAX near my house are $17.50 each. You don't say what you saw, but let's just use that price. Two ticket at $17.50 is $35 in total. So we are supposed to believe that you spent about $35 on 2 cokes, nachos and popcorn? No way Jose.
  • the executives trying to use crap like this as an excuse as to why there are poor sales are some day going to have to come to terms with the fact that their product sucks. Want to improve sales? Here is a guaranteed money maker, "End movie ads before the movie". The movie theater I go to did and now that is the only one I go to. Improve your product and quit making excuses.
  • Yes, yes, it's a gross invasion of privacy, an outrage, etc etc. I haven't been to a theatre in 10 years. Let's see - $12 to see a shitty excuse of a film with plotline/effects that I've seen 300 times already, acting so bad that it defies belief, an endless bombardment of mind-numbing, insulting advertising, and snacks and concessions marked up over 1000% - not my idea of a good time. I'd rather be slowly tortured to death, actually. And what's the point, really? Assuming I even want to see the film (legal
  • Poor quality movies, high ticket prices, home theaters and television commercials shown in the theater have been killing movie theaters. Now they want to spy on you too. Another nail in the coffin.

    They need to ask themselves, if they were a patron, what would be their motivation to go to a movie versus staying home.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alcourt (198386)

      You forgot the theater's refusal to ever set the volume to an appropriate level. Proper sound levels doesn't have a screen whisper so loud that I'm wincing because it is above my comfortable threshold for volume. I gave up on theaters years ago. I don't have a huge screen, but I have a more comfortable chair, I have a sound system that I can set to the right volume, and I can pause if someone needs to get up for any reason.

      There are more important things to me than a screen that is so large I can't see c

      • Word.

        I might go to a mainstream theater once a year for a super special movie like an Avatar or some other huge movie event.

        Otherwise it is alternative movie theaters or DVDs at home for me.

  • by Enrique1218 (603187) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:23AM (#34110282) Journal
    You know those post-recorded movies with the camera really suck. It does not replace sitting in a theater or or renting the DVD three months later. I think the cinemas problems is not the Hussleman video taping in the theater but the shitty movies Hollywood gives you to present. They may not want to discourage moviegoers any more than Hollywood has.
  • Who cares? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by realmolo (574068) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:27AM (#34110316)

    Literally NONE of my friends go to the movies anymore. They all have Netflix accounts and Blu-Ray players and big screens.

    Movie theaters will essentially disappear within 10 years. I would say it's their own damn fault, but really, they simply had no chance once home theater technology got good enough and cheap enough.

  • I mean, how long can it take before clippy lets us know that we might be in the market for a new couch, or in need of a pizza?

    This killer meme brought to you by the rally to restore FEAR.

  • So what? Pretty much every business establishment that you go into is going to be monitoring you with cameras. They own the place, and they can do as they please. I really don't care why they watch, whether it be for security, loss prevention, marketing, or simply to get off on watching hot chicks (though I hope the latter group would get fired for not doing their job). As long as they keep the cameras out of the bathrooms and dressing rooms (which are probably the only places you should have any expectatio

  • by newdsfornerds (899401) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:46AM (#34110548) Journal
    Have the cameras identify the a-holes who can't stop talking during the movie and deliver a painful jolt of electricity to their seat until they stfu.
  • Options (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @10:58AM (#34111780)
    The movie theatre isn't some government organization - vote with your wallet. Simply boycott the theatres that want to engage in this kind of activity. There are other activities that you can do such as reading, outdoor activities, building up your home theatre, etc. If you don't like this additional surveillance, the best way to make it fail is to simply stop going to the movies altogether. However, most Americans will continue to go despite this. I live in a dessert so I may go to a movie on only the hottest days during the summer. Save for that, there are all kinds of other forms of entertainment to engage in that, cost about the same, yet provide hours of entertainment versus a short film. Additionally, what happens if this system mistakenly identifies a person as having and using recording gear. The first major lawsuit and this surveillance crap will get returned to the manufacturer with refunds demanded.
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @12:07PM (#34113060) Homepage

    Today when you walk into a retail store you can pretty much be assured that if there are 20 other people in the store that one of them is there to steal something. Large stores try for 3% shrinkage and some achieve it - others are experiencing as much as 5%. That is 5% of total inventory. You might guess that a $20 DVD is easier to steal than a $2000 big-screen TV.

    So stores employ security guards and put in surveillance systems to try to stop people from stealing. It doesn't work all that well and people are offended by being treated as if they are there to steal. But as many as 10% of the customers walking in the store are there to steal.

    Do some searching and you will discover that when a movie is released there are "cam" versions of it available for download the very first day. In multiple languages. This means that the first day the movie came out there were multiple people taping the movie. It is now a fact of life that this happens. The theaters are pretty much on the verge of realizing they are utterly obsolete and like drive-in movie theaters of the past, the land is worth more than the theater is.

    While a "cam" is certainly the worst possible way to watch a movie, it is the alternative of choice because it is first - you can't download the DVD for months after the release in the theater. Theaters are participating in their own destruction with every "cam" release on the Internet and they understand this. Like the store security guards, cameras and security systems this is an ineffectual attempt at staying in business. Stores cannot exist with a 5% shrinkage rate - or more bluntly if 5% of the store's inventory value is stolen the store will simply close.

    Amazon probably doesn't have 5% shrinkage. Best Buy is trying for 3% and achieving it in a lot of stores.

    I rarely go to movies with more than 20 people in the whole theater. Theaters can't continue to exist like that and will absolutely be closing. I think I would be surprised if there is a single one left in the US in 10 years.

  • by Digital Vomit (891734) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @01:06PM (#34113986) Homepage Journal
    You know where you can watch movies without *being* watched? At home on your entertainment system with the latest torrent.

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