I was at the Karate Kid a couple of weeks back and the woman next to me was filming random, 5-minute segments of the movie on her BlackBerry. Considering she, realistically, only had about 15 minutes of Jaden Smith (coupled with the fact that her boyfriend looked he was all set for a parking lot throwdown with a pasty-skinned Irish girl), I kept quiet.
It turns out my friend from the movie theater isn't alone in her penchant for filming random parts of the movie. Last year, an Illinois woman was jailed for two days for taking out her camera on two occasions during a showing of Twilight: New Moon. Samantha Tumpach last week filed a lawsuit against the movie theater, claiming the manager pushed for her arrest despite the fact that the local police and MPAA recommended she be released.
The 22-year-old says she only filmed the opening sequence and one other scene because she wanted to capture her favorite character taking his shirt off. According to the suit, an usher came into the theater to warn Samantha and her sisters to stay in their assigned seats and said nothing when she began filming the opening credits with her camera. The usher notified her manager who went into the theater to see if Samantha was indeed filming the movie. Manager Stephen Buckus didn't see anything amiss but waited and watched until Tumpach got out her camera to film her favorite character getting his kit off. He then called the police. Ms. Tumpach was arrested and cuffed in the movie theater and then walked out by a police officer.
Tumpach says she was arrested because the manager wanted a financial reward from the MPAA and the National Association of Theater Owners. Wired reports that movie theater employees get a $500 reward from the MPAA and National Association of Theater Owners if they catch a pirate and it results in a conviction. She claims this was the incentive for having her cuffed and escorted from the theater to a waiting squad car. Despite police officers recommending Buckus just ban her from the theater and destroy the data, Buckus demanded she be arrested and charged.
Once Ms. Tumpach arrived at the local station, police officers called the MPAA for advice. They explained that she had been in the theater for an hour and seven minutes and had recorded a little over three minutes of the movie. The MPAA recommended the police department destroy the 195 seconds of footage, write up an incident report and release Samantha. However, Buckus again insisted that a felony had been committed and demanded that Tumpach be charged.
Tumpach and her lawyer are seeking damages to the tune of $50,000 for malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and defamation.
Full suit available here (via Wired, PDF warning).