The Day Shall Come…When Content Companies Address the Streaming Farce
British writer, director, and satirical genius Chris Morris has been body-slamming the media and establishment with biting dark, satirical comedy for decades in the UK.
For those out of the loop, this is a man who managed to convince Conservative MP David Amess – who was later appointed chair of the Psychoactive Substances Bill Committee – to bring up the horrors of a new street drug in a Parliamentary debate. The drug was a giant dinner plate-sized yellow pill called ‘Cake’ and it didn’t even exist.
Adding to his notoriety, Morris also flashed a message containing one of the world’s most offensive words during the eventual TV airing of a show canceled by the UK’s Channel 4, declaring the channel’s then-chief executive to be that four-letter uttering. Morris is scared of no one, and that’s why people love him.
So, after waiting nine long years for Morris to follow up on his daring and unflinching 2010 terrorism-farce movie masterpiece Four Lions, you might understand why the build-up to his new movie The Day Shall Come has been excruciating for his fans, especially those who want to financially support him.
“Based on 100 true stories, the explosive new film from Chris Morris (Four Lions, Brass Eye) is an emotionally gripping, laugh out loud thriller that exposes the dark farce at the heart of the homeland security project: It is harder to catch a real terrorist than it is to manufacture your own,” the movie’s homepage reads.
Sadly, I – one of Morris’s most enduring and fervent fans – will have to take his word for it. I shall indeed be in the UK when the movie goes on general theatrical release on October 11 but as I write this on Tuesday, Oct 1, frustration has set in like never before. And that really shouldn’t have happened.
On my regular news-tour of torrent sites I could see that the movie had already appeared online. It’s a so-called WEBRip release, meaning that it was ripped from a legitimate streaming service. Considering that Morris has built his celluloid history and fanbase, not to mention infamy in the UK, that means it must have been ripped from a UK source and available to buy, right?
Industry anti-piracy initiatives such as the UK’s GetitRight (from a Genuine Site) are 100% targeted at people who have the ability to pirate but might be persuaded to part with their money instead, so this was a great opportunity to test the system with something I actually care about.
So, with cash in hand, seeking out a source for a legitimate purchase, I headed off to the portal. It couldn’t help me directly and I was subsequently directed to FindAnyFilm.com, where the movie is indeed listed.
With options to ‘Buy to Own’ turning up nothing for Blu-ray, DVD, or Digital, the ‘Watch Now’ option (streaming) seemed the final but perfect option. Unfortunately, both ‘buy’ and ‘rent’ turned up absolutely nothing. No options whatsoever, with no idea provided when they might become available.
It’s not FindAnyFilm’s fault, it’s not GetitRight’s fault, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. I was already two websites into this mission and it was not going well.
A direct search on Amazon.co.uk did reveal a DVD listing for £10.00 but that was accompanied by a message stating that “This title has not yet been released. You may pre-order it now and we will deliver it to you when it arrives.” Even if I wanted a DVD, which I do not, no release date was provided. Which is absolutely useless. Three websites in.
After various inquiries it soon became clear that Amazon.com was the only straightforwardly obvious place where Morris’s new film might be streamed in the UK. So I tried to log in and surprise – Amazon.com didn’t like it one bit.
The company sent me a one-time validation code, to prove I am indeed me, which I used after receiving it via email. Once logged-in I tried to ‘rent’ the movie but of course, it was unavailable for purchase because I wasn’t in the United States and my payment method was apparently “invalid”. It wasn’t, I’d used it minutes earlier. Four websites in, and an email. No movie.
In my opinion, the steps taken above go way beyond reasonable. Exactly how many hoops do these companies, that combine to present these content distribution machines to the public, expect people to jump through to willingly part themselves from their money in order to support the industry?
For those who know Morris and appreciate his work, this is the kind of ridiculous situation he himself might dismantle with glee, particularly considering The Day Shall Come was in part funded by the UK National Lottery/BFI Film Fund. The citizens of that country, who helped to fund it, cannot see it online at the same time as their US counterparts.
There will be pirates out there laughing to themselves wondering why I didn’t click on the magnet link I saw earlier and simply download the movie, there and then, and save all the headaches. After all, that would’ve been one site visited, one movie watched. For free.
But for someone who actually wants to support Chris Morris and in industry-speak, “make sure he can make more movies in the future”, why shouldn’t I be able to pay if I want to?
The answer is simple: ‘they’ – whoever they are – won’t let me. The Day Shall Come when this nonsense gets sorted out but people’s patience may have run out by then, if they can be bothered to expend any at all. The content is available legally so for the sake of sanity, let us – the fans – buy it.
Our Shatner’s Bassoons – even without Cake – can’t take any more.