Another reason to love "New Moon" director Chris Weitz.
A Chicago woman facing prison time for videotaping three minutes of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” has a new ally in her legal battle — the film’s director.
Veteran director Chris Weitz told the Sun-Times he’s dismayed about Samantha Tumpach’s arrest Nov. 28 at a Rosemont movie theater on a felony charge of illegally copying his new hit film, and he’s contacted the film’s studio about his concerns.
“Needless to say, the case seems to me terribly unfair and I would like to do what I can to address this,” Weitz wrote in an e-mail.
The 22-year-old Tumpach could receive a three-year prison term after being arrested on a rarely used felony charge intended to prevent movie patrons from secretly recording new movies with handheld cameras, then selling bootleg copies.
Tumpach, who spent two days in jail awaiting a bond hearing after her arrest, acknowledged there were a couple of short segments of the movie on her digital camera — though she contended she wasn’t trying to record the movie.
Instead, Tumpach told the Sun-Times last week that she was taping parts of her sister’s surprise 29th birthday party celebrated at the Muvico Theater — including her and other family members singing “Happy Birthday.”
The three minutes of footage she shot inside the theater, Tumpach said, also included film previews and ads, along with short segments of the film — and her talking about the camera and the movie.
“It was never my intention to record the movie,” Tumpach said. “You can hear me talking the whole time.”
Weitz questioned whether her arrest was justified.
“There is, needless to say, a difference between trying to protect the copyright of a film and making an unfair example of someone who clearly seems not to have any intentions towards video piracy,” Weitz wrote.
He said he had contacted the studio that released the film, Summit Entertainment, to express his concern about her arrest, but he acknowledged there’s probably little he can do to influence the outcome of her case.
“I am not sure what effect I would have on the case,” he wrote, noting “the film is, after all, not my property.”
Tumpach, who faces a court date Dec. 17, couldn’t be reached for comment. She said last week she considered the incident “a big thing over nothing.”
“We were just messing around,” she said. “Everyone is so surprised it got this far.”
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