Chris Weitz Defends Chicago Woman

Last week we reported the story of a Chicago-area woman,Samantha Tumpach, who was arrested and jailed for taping 3 minutes of New Moon on a video camera. What came to light after her arrest was that she wasn’t so much taping the movie as she was taping the guests at a birthday party that just so happened to be going on at the theater that was, you guessed it, showing New Moon. Now granted she caught New Moon footage and you’re not supposed to do that, but it’s not as if she was surreptitiously taping the whole movie with intent to sell.  Throwing her in jail for what seems to be stupidity, naivete, carelessness (or quite possibly all three) does seem rather harsh.  Well it looks like, given the alleged specific context of the situation, Chris Weitz agrees.

According to the Chicago Sun Times:

“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.”

See the whole story here.

EDITED: We are currently trying to establish exactly who is pressing the charges here.  Public record would seem to indicate that it is the owners of the theater. Ty to Amanda Bell, the Twilight examiner, for finding the apparent complainant.


  1. Ohhhh, this makes me love Chris more than i already do. He is such a nice, intelligent guy, who has been nothing but amazing to the fans, despite everyones early concerns about him. Plus, New Moon was really really great. Looking forward to the DVD, and esp the commentary with Chris, Rob, Kristen and Taylor

    • ITA. It’s really considerate of Chris to try to help the girl. He’s such a great guy, I hope he’ll come back for BD. I can’t wait for the NM commentary, it’ll be so interesting to hear their thoughts about the film.

    • Rosalie's Pain says:

      This scares the living daylights out of me. What direction is our country headed to and why are more news channels not covering it? I thought the constitution said that there would not be any unusual or cruel punishments! Our common sense is so out the window it makes me want to cry. I guess the cops were taking a popcorn break instead of a doughnut break!

  2. Thank you Chris. Many of us without the voice to defend this young girl are so greatful for your voice of reason that carries enough weight to be heard.

  3. Shadowhunter_Gurl says:

    I don’t think that that’s very fair. She wasn’t taping it with the intent to sell or even that she had caught some of the film on tape. I think that since there are all these people doing this now, they are so eager to catch someone and make an example out of them that it’s just wrong. First find out what was going out first, THEN make an example out of them. And Chris is a very nice guy for trying to help out like that. I agree with him that it’s not fair.

  4. He is prob thinking them greedy buggers have made half a billion already and I got paid a pittance??? let her have her 3 minutes. Or he could really be that nice..Im deffo a Chrissy fan.

  5. Yisel_Cullen says:

    Good for you Chris!…you are an amazing guy!
    Please! leave the poor girl alone…ufff…invest your efforts to catch actual criminals!

  6. In all fairness, jail time does seem a bit harsh, but let me also point something else out. You’re going to see New Moon (or any other movie in a THEATER with other people who are there to WATCH THE MOVIE) and what do you do instead of actually sit and watch the movie? You point a distracting camera around (which, by law and by theater rules, and not to mention common courtesy, is illegal) that you shouldn’t even have out at all in the theater to begin with (do you like sitting by groups of people with their cell phones on and who talk and interrupt etc? I can assure you she was probably doing the same only VIDEOTAPING instead of texting or talking on the phone). The point is she broke a policy of the theater and apparently a law as well. What she did was just plain rude and stupid. Whether that warrants jail time, fines or anything is up to higher powers in the system, but I mean seriously. Come on. If you’re going to go see a movie, sit down and watch the movie and let other people enjoy it too. Save video taping for AFTER the movie if that’s so important to you.

    • Ok, we have established she broke theater policy (rules) so tell her she did, ask her to sit down. Isn’t that what ushers are hired to do…she probably wasn’t even aware she was breaking rules. From her pic she looks young, is there anyone out there who hasn’t done something stupid. I will go out of my way not to frequent any of those theaters in the future. hellooooooo Malco…..

  7. Green Lily says:

    The punishment is disproportionate to the “crime.” I’m sure she probably violated theater procedure, not to mention movie-watching etiquette, but I do not feel that copyright laws were broken in this situation. A more appropriate response would have been for the theater to evict her. These charges, however, are an extreme overreaction.

    Chris is a wonderful man for standing up for her. I hope his efforts accomplish something on her behalf.

  8. As someone else said, I think that Chris is defending her because the punishment is disproportionate to the crime. Three years of jail time does seem to be a bit harsh, considering that she had no intent to distribute the material and was only filming the kids for a video of the celebration. Evict them from the theater, fine. Make them pay a small fee, fine. But three YEARS of jail time for this?

    Chris isn’t condoning piracy. He’s simply expressing his concern over the extent of the punishment for a mother.

  9. Yay Chris! This woman definitely didn’t use great judgement and poor movie etiquette but let’s save jail time for real criminals.

  10. What she did was wrong but I think the girl has learned her lesson at this point. I doubt she’ll ever record anything ever again. Jail time does seem extremely harsh. Perhaps community services would make much more sense.

  11. I really hope Summit reaches out to help this girl. Team Weitz all the way!!!(lol)

  12. Yeah, seriously. She’s a young lady with children, and she really doesn’t strike me as someone who intentionally recorded the movie for distribution. It was only three minutes of footage, and most of it was just her talking to the camera with everyone in the theater. Who would want to distribute something like that, since the movie was partially blocked?

    Fine her or give some community service, but three years of jail?!

  13. Now that I understand that it is the theater that is pressing charges I must say that I understand why they are doing it.

    I used to be involved in the logo business. People would come in and ask me to put Disney, Warner Brothers, sports teams and NASCAR logos on their garments all the time. Then they would bet all upset when I tried to explain that IT’S ILLEGAL for me to do something like that. They say they would never tell anyone, yadda, yadda, yadda! Problem is there are people working for these companies that do nothing but go around to companies like I used to own and see if they would do it. Can you say BUSTED! The reason I would not do it is because those companies would wind up owning everything I had – including my house, cars, bank accounts – everything because they could file a lawsuit against me for copywrite infringement!

    I am sure the theater stands to loose their franchise license, among many other things, if they had not taken the steps they did. It is probably in their contract with the movie powers that be to do something like this. They have no other options if they want to stay in business!

    She broke the damn rules people. Yes, 3 years in the pokey is harsh. She’s already paid dearly for her stupidity and let’s hope she learned that, no matter what the occasion is, you do not use a camera inside a theater ONCE THE MOVIE HAS STARTED!

    There are reasons for rules. If we all followed them more often then we wouldn’t have problems like this!

  14. CORRECTION – Copywrite should read copyright! Never trust spell check!

  15. ahh chris this makes me love u so much more!
    and im from chicago and know the place she got arrested at, its a really new “fancy” theater and the people there can be harsh and i think they shouldnt have pressed charges, they took it overboard and by doing so theyr making themselves look like morons.

  16. You go Chris!! woot! 😀

  17. I find this funny that it’s on the front page of the Chicago Sun Times today. I walked by the box and saw it any nearly laughed when i saw Chris Weitz photo splashed on there.

    I also think it’s harsh to press charges on this kind of thing though. If she was doing it for a birthday party and taping the kids, I don’t think she should be charged. I think she’s endured enough getting such media coverage over this. I hope Summit and Chris Weitz can help her.

  18. This makes me love Chris Weitz even more. Weitz for BD!

  19. Chris is such a great guy!!! I love him even more now!!!

  20. What a sweet compassionate thing to do. Chris is a awesome!!!!!

  21. Is anyone defending her, like a lawyer? I am pretty sure that with a good lawyer, she can the charges dropped. This is ridiculous.

  22. that is soooo super nice of him! i cant belive she went to jail for that! its so stupid when murders run free on the streets! if the police put more effort into finding killers and less into this stupid stupid crap the world would be a better place to live!

  23. Chris Weitz is amazing! That is so, so generous of him. I really hope the poor girl gets released from jail.

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