DVD snafu may keep 'Munich' off medals stand

The DVD, usually a gold mine for movie makers, appears to be giving the shaft to director Steven Spielberg. His latest movie, "Munich," is a favorite to win honors from many organizations, but that isn't likely to be the case in Britain.

Voting members of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) have until Thursday to get their nominations in for movies deserving accolades. The problem is that many of the members still haven't seen "Munich," because the preview DVD sent to BAFTA members doesn't play in DVD players in Britain, according to an article in Wednesday's Guardian newspaper in England.

The movie, a dramatization of the 1972 Olympic hostage crisis that resulted in the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes, doesn't open in Britain until Jan. 27. And many of BAFTA's 5,000 members aren't likely to nominate a movie they haven't seen.

Apparently the industry's antipiracy effort is at the root of the problem. The disc was encoded for region 1 viewing in North America, rather than region 2, which allows for viewing in much of Europe, according to the paper.

The public relations company coordinating the movie's BAFTA campaign blamed the snafu on human error at the facility where the DVDs were encrypted.

"Someone pushed the wrong button," a representative told the paper. "It was a case of rotten bad luck."

The company has arranged for another round of theater previews in London, but that isn't likely to be of much service to members who reside outside London.

"It's been quite a cock-up," one BAFTA member told the paper. "The trouble is that BAFTA members are scattered all over the country. We're not all based in London."

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