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DVD of Theatrical Release Pops Up in Local Dive

22 Jan, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

You'll find them every so often: restaurants, bars and coffeehouses that show mainstream movies on DVD.

The likelihood of most of these places having the required public performance licenses to play the DVDs is slim. They may not even know they need one. Unless they're charging to get in, it's likely they'll never have a letter or a suit from the Motion Picture Association of America show up at the door.

But when you're a bar and grill off Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and you're showing a $400 million-plus international blockbuster that's still in theaters, you can bet it's going to get back to someone who cares.

Three-Legged Dog was a little place referred to me by locals. When I walked in, every loud TV was showing the end of Live Free or Die Hard. A stack of DVDs next to the player included both Young Guns movies, We Are Marshall, Dazed and Confused and a host of other flicks geared mostly at young adult males. Not exactly a five-star spot, the place probably didn't have the proper paperwork, not that many were watching.

After John McClane's business was done, the bartender popped in another DVD. And at first I thought I was watching previews: a desolate Manhattan, apocalypse, Will Smith. I Am Legend. I thought maybe it was an advance, opening preview on some Warner DVD I hadn't seen. After 20 minutes it was obvious: A movie in theaters was being shown for free at some New Orleans dive.

Maybe the bartender could see my interest was more than casual. He only said the DVD came from a friend. It wasn't a hand-held camera hatchet job, that's for sure. The result of an unscrupulous employee at a local theater, perhaps? There was no “Property of Warner Home Video” warning every 10 minutes either.

A Warner Home Video representative said there's no way it came out of the studio, adding she was disappointed to hear about the bar's DVD.

The people who should be disappointed are the theater owners in a city still recovering from a natural disaster.

And if it's happening in one place, the chances are good it's happening elsewhere.

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