Inside DVD Piracy

The job would have to be done at midnight. That's when Mission: Impossible III was debuting at Manhattan's Ziegfeld theater. The six bootleggers didn't always have to wait until a movie opened to the public. Sometimes they'd get into private screenings, courtesy of a scalper who'd sell them tickets for a few hundred dollars.

Other times they'd sneak into a "technical screening," when a projectionist first receives a film and runs it without an audience to check for glitches.

For M:I III, though, those options weren't available. The guys would have to do their business surrounded by a full house of Tom Cruise's remaining fans on opening night, a Thursday. (Paramount released the movie in time for midnight screenings the night before its official May 5, 2006 opening.)

Actually, the guy making the illicit copy of the film was surrounded not by moviegoers but by his five co-conspirators. The FBI calls these guys "blockers" because their job is to sit in front of and to either side of the guy with the camera (the "cammer"). This minimizes the possibility of some plebeian's head or body winding up in the video frame.