|Within hours of being illegally taped in a theater, a newly released movie is sent via the Internet to Asian "distribution hubs" in Pakistan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia, where tens of thousands of DVD copies are made and sold.|
The group, by the way, extended far beyond a bunch of guys hogging the best seats in the theater. There were wholesalers, retailers, printers, distributors - a whole elaborate chain.
The heists worked like this: Six men would go into a theater to cam a movie, trying to get into the earliest possible showing (prerelease screenings are even better) because the longer a film is in theaters, the more value its bootlegged version loses on the street. They would then transfer the movie from the MiniDV tape onto a computer hard drive. From there, the film was both uploaded to a server and burned onto 13 to 15 DVD masters.
The packaging operations began before the movie had even been cammed. For the DVD sleeve, the conspirators would find movie artwork on the Internet. (The official Superman Returns poster, for instance, is readily available for download by anyone visiting the public Warner Bros. film site.) The cover art was then sent to one of several printing presses in Manhattan or Brooklyn warehouses, which then produced some 15,000 high-quality sheets for insertion into DVD cases. Notes Berglas, "It looked like the real thing . . . like what you'd see on the shelves of Blockbuster."
As for the quality of the video itself, Berglas says the non-widescreen image is "oftentimes really good. It's obviously not as good as on a regular DVD. But for $5, for people who want to see it that day, it's okay." And plugging the camcorder directly into the audio jack for the hearing-impaired produces a pretty decent audio track.
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