British Film Judges Unable to View 'Munich'

Judges of Britain's top film awards were unable to view Steven Spielberg's new movie "Munich" as nominations closed Thursday because distributors mistakenly sent them DVDs coded to play only on North American machines.

The movie is not due for release in British movie theaters until Jan. 27, so many members of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts could not see the movie in time.

Bafta has 5,000 eligible voters, 3,500 of which live in Britain and the rest primarily in the United States, where the movie opened in theaters last month.

Sara Keene, whose Premier PR firm represents the film's British distributor, United International Pictures, acknowledged Wednesday the error may reduce the movie's award prospects.

Most Hollywood DVDs are coded to restrict its distribution. That way, a studio can choose to release a film on DVD on one continent while still showing it in theaters on another.

DVDs coded Region 1 are supposed to play only on DVD players sold in the United States and Canada; British players need DVDs coded Region 2.

The mix-up resulted from a human error at a laboratory where the preview DVDs were processed, according to Premier PR.

"There was a technical problem," Keene said. "Someone pushed the wrong button."

Spielberg has previously been honored by the Bafta awards — the British equivalent of the Oscars — with a special prize for excellence in film making.

His new film "Munich," is based on events following the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics.