(Toledo, OH) A relative of mine came back from New York City the other day (her identity will be protected in this post), and she brought with her some DVDs of films currently in the theater.
She paid $5 each for the discs from a street vendor near Times Square, and they turned out to be pirated versions of the films. Having never knowingly watched a pirated film before, I was all game to view the discs.
The overall quality of each of these films - Borat and The Pursuit of Happiness - was laughably poor, as both were produced from cameras set up on tripods in theaters running the films. In The Pursuit of Happiness you could see the tops of the front seats, the camera was set at an oblique angle, and there was a recurrent sound of rustling papers throughout the film.
The sound quality in Borat was very poor, and it had Spanish subtitles where the protagonists spoke in faux Kazakh. This pirated DVD was filmed with a digital camera that had some sort of autofocus function, and every time the scene changed there was a one-second visual anomaly as the lens readjusted.
I am not sure what sort of consumer would be satisfied with such poor quality DVDs, but I suspect that there are enough tourists in places like the Big Apple to keep these vendors busy.
As for me, I am too much of a purist to enjoy the sacrifice of quality over a few dollars in price, or beating the official release of a DVD by a few months.