Friday, January 18, 2008

Sundance 2008

While many of my co-workers will continue diligently working next week, some of us will be in Park City watching about 15 movies in 5 days. It's not part of my job to be at Sundance, but if you love movies Netflix has a tradition of letting you go. Consequently, blog updates will go on hiatus next week. (I may blog about the festival, but it will be on my personal blog, for those interested.)

42 comments:

  1. The person who was supposed to update us on status of the Releasing This Week page at Sundance also? or Still on that 5 week vacation? or Perhaps not all of us have forgotten that page yet?

    Or did I miss the announcement again?

    Have fun and please let us know what's happening there. :)

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  2. No, chawk, you didn't miss anything. There's no announcement coming. Michael has, on the (still experimental) "Netflix community message board" (http://members.boardhost.com/netflix/) written:

    This is my fault. It isn't for me to respond. I had it on pretty good assurance that a formal comment would be made, but the folks who are working on these issues had nothing to add, so they didn't. I really shouldn't have promised a corporate response. And I understand that it undermines my reliability. I take responsibility for this.

    So we're basically left with the same nothing as we began with. But at least they hear us... Whatever good that'll do.

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  3. I really hope that your more reticent colleagues understand the extent to which you, and you alone, have been responsible for many of us not stomping off in disgust these last couple of weeks...

    So, many thanks, bon voyage, and have fun.

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  4. the strike will make this a very special sundance...the entertainment giants are hungry for "product" that only the indies have. Looking forward to the blogging.

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  5. 'interested' OF CORSE! =) have a great time sir!

    Cheers!
    Matt

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  6. Thanks Knaldskalle.

    They continue to hide behind the "so few people used that link we removed it" story I guess.

    Just imagine the cost it took to keep that RTW link on the site for so few of us. It boggles the mind.

    Well,I've been looking at about 3 different sites to see what's coming out weekly and I don't know if anyone else has seen this but it seems Netflix isn't buying all the new releases I'm finding on sites.

    This is the one I like the best
    http://www.joblo.com/dvdclinic/release_dates.php

    Last week there were a couple on the site that I didn't find on NF. I requested they order them. Tonight there are 9 on that site releasing next Tuesday that Netflix doesn't seem to have. I've requested that they buy them.

    One of those nine I've had in my save status for several months and would like to put it in the real queue. They are releasing it Tuesday according to that site but NF shows it as "Release Date Unknown".

    I'm wondering what this means. They make it hard for customers to see what they are buying and now it seems they are buying less inventory or not updating the information we can see.

    I also haven't seen any of the movies I've requested they add actually added.

    One movie that NF did have at one time as very long wait that I had at the top of my queue, NF sent to the black hole (Save section) and it has been there about 9 months. I believe I've requested NF buy that at least 2 times in the past.

    Baff, you said one time they always add the ones you ask for. What's you secret?

    Disclaimer - I am not a BB shill. I love Netflix. Actually, when NF removed the RTW page I started a BB account too because BB had a movie I wanted to see and had waited months for NF to send it. NF never did but I got it from BB. And that was the only good thing about BB. Do Not Think BB can compare at all to Netflix. I actually think they have just as good an inventory and they tell me what they have but the DVDs take 2 times as long to get to me and 2 times as long to get put back into their inventory. Doesn't matter whether I mail them in or swap them at a walk in store. And the distribution center is in the same city as the NF one.

    Netflix is awesome. I just want them to flixing tell us what they are putting in inventory weekly. I think that's fair since so few of us used it - it certainly wouldn't impact DVD shipping.

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  7. I've recently returned the Entourage disc with the Sundance episode. Looks like a great place to be if a movie fan, particularly if there's enough snow on the slopes. Alas, my job doesn't permit a vacation during Sundance.

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  8. Have fun Michael. Bring back some interesting movies! (Take a break from these harpies and trolls.)

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  9. @Eviltimes -

    But won't you be going with him, jammed that far up?

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  10. Hello:
    Sorry to contact you through here But I don't own a netflix account (I am not at US at the moment). I want to know if I can buy a netflix subscription and only use the feature to watch dvd's on my pc. Is that possible?

    thanks in advance,
    isaac.-

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  11. Isaac, there are no download-only plans at the moment, but it's only a matter of time. I very much doubt that you'll get anything out of them, but here's their number in California for more info (toll-free numbers don't work outside the US) :

    (408) 540-3700

    Netflix
    100 Winchester Cir
    Los Gatos, CA 95032

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  12. Keep in mind that Netflix does not permit streaming movies outside of the U.S. at the moment, if that was your intention.

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  13. Netflix DVD Quality

    I have been disappointed with Netflix lately. Of all the DVDs I received in the past two months, everyone of them are scratched with skips in them.

    This is totally frustrating especially when I set aside time to watch a good movie.

    What is going on with your quality control! Don't forget about customer service!

    (BTW, my location is New York City).

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  14. "I have been disappointed with Netflix lately. Of all the DVDs I received in the past two months, everyone of them are scratched with skips in them.

    (BTW, my location is New York City)."

    That's the problem. Everyone knows that New Yorkers abuse their girlfriends, wives and DVDs. Move to Utah :)

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  15. I haven't noticed an increase in scratched or unplayable discs myself. I always thought the WORST were the discs I got from my local Blockbuster, but recently I started checking out movies from the library. WOW, they are bad! Apparently Library People think DVDs and handkerchiefs are interchangeable. Ewwwwww!

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  16. I apologize for this off subject post but this is an official calling out a a reviewer's Mis-deeds. Netflix please investigate this. Community please respond.

    ---
    A reviewer by the user name Robo RUR has been plagiarizing reviews. Elevator to the Gallows (1958) is one this review stole from IMDB reviewer in NYC. Cat in the Cage (1978) is another one. Additionally this user's Searchers 2.0 review is stolen from cinemawithoutborders.com. The Ju Dou (1990) is verbatim rip off of an Amazon.com user review. Robo RUR is an insult and outrage to all Netflix reviewers that work hard to honestly write their own reviews. Please delete suspend all these reviews and investigate them further. I only looked for a few minutes. of the 1,100 reviews this user posted I am certain many many more will reveal to plagiarized as well. This type of behavior CAN NOT be allowed on Netflix.

    Thank you!
    Sincerely,
    Honest reviewer

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  17. michael, from netflixJanuary 24, 2008 at 12:31 PM

    You're right. That is not permitted. I have forwarded this to customer service to research and handle. Thank you VERY MUCH.

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  18. I don't believe Robo RUR should be allowed to stay -- but that's just me. I confirmed the Cat in Cradle review and a third member reported finding other plagiaries too.

    Back on topic, I love Netflix and think it's stupendous but after waiting 1.5 years for Netflix to get about 150 DVDs I have requested that it has not listed, or that it has listed but not stocked, I finally opened a low-level account on BB after finding it stocked 50% of that number. Forgive me but Netflix cannot claim to be comprehensive if it is not comprehensive. We can wait 2-4 months to get discs but 8-18 months? If you can't get the disc then please put it on instant viewing. All my title requests over the years are documented on Twerpette (twerpette.blogspot.com).

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  19. TO: Matt

    I've noticed NF reviews that were verbatim IMDB reviews but I thought probably it was the same person posting on both sites. I don't remember who it was but I know it was one of the more prolific NF reviewers. If I see it again I'll pay attention.

    TO: Twerpette and anyone who will hear us - RE: Waiting for DVDs

    I agree that some DVDs just seem to never come and it's very frustrating. Nosferatu the Vampyre is still in my save section with availability unknown. NF moved it from my queue to the save section and it has been there for over 6 months. I actually received it from Blockbuster in December. I had sent requests for NF to get it again (they had it - I suppose it was lost) but it never happened. Nosferatu is an older film but new releases are taking a long time too. So surprizing now that the RTW page is gone!

    Sunshine has been #1 in my que since a few days before it was released (1/8) and it's still there - finally with a short wait status.

    BUT I still love NF and the only good thing BB did was send me that movie that NF will not buy. BB's shipping is no where near as good as NF. I think NF just needs to please buy more movies.

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  20. I think NF just needs to please buy more movies.

    ROGER THAT! And tell you what : I'm pretty sure that the majority of us that received that $1 price cut a while back would be happy to give it back if they did, as long as they made the reason for the 'price re-adjustment' very clear. Because, relatively meaningless as $1/mth is to anyone that can afford to rent movies, when that $1 gets multiplied by however many millions of us were eligible, then you're "starting to talk about real money".

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  21. @ Chwak. Yes I have posted my own review on IMDB and on Netflix but in the case mentioned One reviewer by oner name was located in NYC and the reviewer by another name located in Texas, a third in the mid west. The review from Amazon, yet another. It is not the same person.

    @ Michael, I knew I could count on you to get this to the right person and have the matter handled. I located MORE but clearly if I (an armature) can figure it out so can the research team on it.
    - Most importantly Micheal have fun at Sundance =)


    @ Twerpette, I find it unlikely that they boot a paying member but maybe delete all reviews and suspend priveleges for 6 months or somthing. This can't be somthing that Netflix allows to continue.

    Cheers All!
    Matt

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  22. apologies.. don't have time or energy to put this in the right place.

    You're watch it now search features are terrible.. The content is pretty bad, but it's bad everywhere. At any rate, it would be soo freaking easy for you guys to add in a couple of additional search fields (Watched it already, rated it already, star rating criteria, year created, etc.). Do this already.

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  23. Thanks Matt - I'm going to watch for that in the future. Good catch.

    Here's something I'd like to see on the Watch Instantly? A queue for those films. We can put movies in a separate watch instantly queue that we intend to see someday. I already have a list that I've made with them but here's the cool part - I'd like my Watch Instantly que to give me a reminder that there are movies available NOW that I can watch. Yes, they are all available now but I tend to forget what I have in the list. Out of sight - out of mind. The reminder could come up on the Community page or even a little block on the regular queue page. I'm thinking it would be a bit like those little blocks that say "Leave a Note for .... or Write a review of..." that come up on the community home page on movies I've seen recently. Randomly a block would come up that says "You have ____ in your Watch Instantly cue. click here to watch it now".

    This queue would also let me know if I have the movie in my regular queue or if a movie is available to WI and I click to add it to my regular queue I'd get a note telling me it's available to WI and giving me choices 1. Do I want to add it to my reg. queue, 2. do I want to add it to my WI queue or 3. do I want to watch it now.

    It wouldn't "remind" anyone who doesn't have movies in the Watch Instantly queue (so it won't annoy Mac users) but it might encourage more people to use the feature. With the new TV box that can be used to watch these coming out soon, I think people would like some features geared to the WI function.

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  24. Cool I just checked the Netflix Community Message Board and there is a thread for a Watch Instantly queue.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one requesting this.

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  25. Hey everyone!

    Just wanted to reaffirm that the Netflix "community" is a REAL thing...

    In the last week, my NF friends and I have revealed a sinister plagiariser, shared vacation announcements, and I have gotten some very sweet and heartfelt responses from people after I announced the birth of our daughter on Saturday. If that isn't community, I don't know what is. Thank you Michael for everything you have done to listen and to respond to everything. And thank you to everyone else for your warm wishes. Although lack of sleep is starting to set in, your support has made it easier.

    Take care,

    -Kevin

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  26. Re: Skipping disks...

    We were having that problem, too. It was very frustrating. On the last disk of the series Carnivale, it was basically unwatchable. I was disgusted with whomever returned it before us. Then, I got an idea - I tried it in another DVD player. It worked fine there.

    We ended up buying a great DVD player at Costco for $100, and havent had so much as a pixilation since then - and we must have watched dozens of Netflix DVDs since then.

    There is a moral to this story :-)

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  27. Back on topic, I love Netflix and think it's stupendous but after waiting 1.5 years for Netflix to get about 150 DVDs I have requested that it has not listed, or that it has listed but not stocked, I finally opened a low-level account on BB after finding it stocked 50% of that number. Forgive me but Netflix cannot claim to be comprehensive if it is not comprehensive. We can wait 2-4 months to get discs but 8-18 months? If you can't get the disc then please put it on instant viewing. All my title requests over the years are documented on Twerpette (twerpette.blogspot.com).

    Is there a complete list of all the titles you've requested? Hopefully with the info on whether Netflix has it available, but never ships it, whether Blockbuster carries it and whether it is even available on DVD.

    I also checked out a psuedo-random sample of titles from your blog and it looked to me like almost all of them are not currently available on DVD. (I categorize it as unavailable if it's not on Amazon, not playable in region 1, or prohibitively expensive.)

    I looked for a subset of those titles on Blockbuster as a non-member and could only find one of them (Christmas Carol: Musical), which was in fact the only one (out of six or seven) that I could find on Amazon. It's a mystery to me why Netflix wouldn't have it.

    For those 150 titles, are you just asking Netflix to buy the DVDs, or are you expecting they will put some pressure on getting the DVDs released (or gain the rights for instant viewing)?

    Netflix doesn't claim to own every DVD that has been released, but they do claim to have a much wider selection than Blockbuster (and other high-volume rental services). Even though Blockbuster may occasionally have a title they don't, I think Netflix's characterization is accurate.

    If you could post the complete list of titles to your blog, it would make the picture much clearer.

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  28. My Twerpette blog lists all movies submitted to Netflix as title requests since October 2005. (Search for the subject title Netflix Support.) It goes back to October 2005 but it's about 150 since October 2006. Periodically I update each posting to note whether Blockbuster stocks it or Netflix has acquired it (sometime in the past year). My general impression of ratios since I began is that Blockbuster has 33% of what Netflix doesn't list and/or stock (plus, I've learned, many Netflix doesn't list but I wasn't interested in anyway) and within 4-12 months Netflix acquires up to 33% of titles requested while still lacking 33-50% of titles requested.

    Let me be clear that I love Netflix completely. Its interface, listings, operations, ratings, customer service and community features are unparalleled in their excellence; Blockbuster is a dim bulb compared to Netflix's far superior incandescence. I just want the movies I want -- and many of these are mainstream titles -- and I got tired of waiting 5-24 months so I opened a minimal Blockbuster account to queue 67 of the 135 titles still pending as of last October. (What's up with Netflix not having Kung Fu: Season 1 for 27 months running?) I've also acquired many of Netflix's missing titles via my public library system (though scratched discs can be a big problem). My point is I shouldn't have had to go to Blockbuster; I didn't want to! I think we would gladly pay a dollar extra per month for Netflix to stock the titles it lists but doesn't stock. You can publish a Cadillac of a phone book but its value is diminished if it doesn't include every listable phone number. Skimping on the corners is how market share begins to erode; look at Starbucks. Netflix shouldn't forget its founding values: To champion the DVD and to be the one-stop shop for every movie anyone could want. (I'm OK if you skip the Lifetime sentimental Christmas specials that Blockbuster seems to specialize in for the Wal-Mart crowd, but to not even list the Muppet Christmas specials? Ouch!) I slso think we will all willingly pay to be able to watch anything instantly online. I know you're transitioning to that and cash may be tight but 2+ years is a long time to keep loyal customers waiting for discs so my suggestion is to either get the discs or put them online. Remember, Netflix: It's all about the movies! Thanks for everything you do.

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  29. It's great that you keep a running log of your requests, but maintaining a complete spreadsheet would be even more useful, objective and illustrative. For example, you have the Wallace and Grommit shorts on your request list, but it looks to me like Netflix has those. Perhaps Netflix added it after your request, but without the spreadsheet, it's hard to tell.

    My point is I shouldn't have had to go to Blockbuster; I didn't want to! I think we would gladly pay a dollar extra per month for Netflix to stock the titles it lists but doesn't stock. You can publish a Cadillac of a phone book but its value is diminished if it doesn't include every listable phone number. Skimping on the corners is how market share begins to erode; look at Starbucks.

    Try to look at it from their perspective as a (money grubbing) business. They do care about market share, but profitability is even more important.

    It is impossible for them to keep copies of every DVD so they have to make a cutoff somewhere. To expand their inventory they would indeed need to charge that extra $1 and only a fraction of their users would be happy with that choice. They are constantly trying to find the ideal (i.e. most profitable) trade-off between breadth of inventory and cost.

    Let's say that on average they acquire 100 new titles out of 120 released every week. They are not going to get good value on their investment for that 101st disc. It's even likely that discs 95-100 are not directly profitable, and they only buy them to attract customers like yourself who have much broader tastes.


    Having a clear spreadsheet would cast more light on their buying practices and allow you (and the community) to sway them a little bit.

    E.g. I don't know they wouldn't have Kung Fu, but its completely understandible why they wouldn't have "Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas". It's cheap and it's mostly for children, so most of the demand is going to be met by parents picking it up in the bargain bin at Walmart. Seasonal movies are especially unprofitable, because they will have a high-demand part of the year and zero for the rest. Add into it that kids' movies take a lot more abuse, so that increases costs and member frustration (somewhat made up for by the cheaper disc cost).

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  30. This thread is not about Sundance 2008 or anything like that, I wanted to send a comment to Netflix in general and I found this blog. It is about the core of Netflix: providing movies to millions of people to enjoy, however, I have never enjoyed a movie rented from netflix because every single DVD is scratched or beyond Windex repair...
    So before we take it to the next level of talking about Sundance and other issues, why don't you address this very important issue?
    A movie is designed to entertain and provide enjoyment, it was not supposed to make you get up 100 times to check the DVD or spend the length of the movie playing with the remote and try to push the movie forward.
    What a waste of time and money!!!

    a client.

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  31. Yes, I could spend a few more hours maintaining a spreadsheet of what Netflix doesn't have yet in support of my title requests, however, I thought (per Netflix FAQs and links) that submitting a title request in itself would be sufficient for Netflix's purposes. Furthermore, I have to earn a living and Netflix is supposed to be a hobby not something that keeps me from my family. So popping a note in my weblog, and commenting when I notice a title has been acquired, serves my purposes most efficiently and is also accessible to the entire world.

    Yes, W&G Amazing Adventures seems to have been acquired since my last update (which seems to fall annually in October). I just finished watching it after acquiring it through interlibrary loan so it must have been quite recently acquired.

    Again, I assume it's Netflix's job to acquire DVDs and to be able to track its own progress in same. I am using its specified process and I see no reason to fadiddle even further since Netflix will either accede to each request or not; documenting the requests it has already received seems irrelevant to the question, which is not whether they LACK the titles but whether they will STOCK the titles. They already have the INFORMATION they need to act; all they lack (in some instances) is the WILLINGNESS.

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  32. On damaged discs, I have encountered that problem up to 50% of the time with interlibrary loan-requested discs but very rarely in the last year from Netflix. Maybe you have hamhanded types in your local post office but I also found most of the scratched-disc problems went away when I started using my newest laptop to play discs instead of my oldest laptop.

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  33. Just finished using the old "Releasing This Week" page (thanks to the blog) to add a few less-known titles to my queue. Of course, the well-known titles (The Comebacks, Daddy Day Camp, The Invasion, etc) have been in my queue since they were in the theaters! Anyway, I had to use the old page to find the other new titles like Millennium Crisis and the Japanese release "1942", because the current New Release page says crap like The Hoax and Oceans Thirteen are popular NEW releases (WTF!?!?). It's bad enough that the New Release page was changed into a completely useless format, but now it's not even updated!

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  34. Again, I assume it's Netflix's job to acquire DVDs and to be able to track its own progress in same. I am using its specified process and I see no reason to fadiddle even further since Netflix will either accede to each request or not; documenting the requests it has already received seems irrelevant to the question, which is not whether they LACK the titles but whether they will STOCK the titles. They already have the INFORMATION they need to act; all they lack (in some instances) is the WILLINGNESS.

    Netflix's job is to maximize profitability and part of that is buying the titles that that they think will get widely used so they can keep their costs down while entertaining the maximum number of customers.

    I don't think we (the customers) really know what happens once they get a title request. Do they log and tabulate each one, or is there a buyer who just glances at the requests and makes a spontaneous choice.

    You're under no obligation to keep comprehensive and objective records for the community, but without that your influence is much diminished. If no one takes up this project then their buying practices will remain a black box.

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  35. Hiding the RTW page doesn't seen to free up movies for me.

    Sunshine was released 1/8/08. It's been at the top of my queue since before it was released. It was on long wait and finally went to short wait last week. As of today it has been #1 in my queue for 20 days since its release. 3 weeks.

    As a test I put it as #1 in my Blockbuster queue on Saturday. It was showing "short wait" there also.

    It shipped from Blockbuster today.

    Personally I have noticed much longer wait times for movies since Netflix fixed it by taking away the RTW page.

    Just a thought NF - but perhaps you should increase inventory as you increase your customer base. 3 weeks seems a long time to wait for a new release.

    Obviously the RTW page isn't returning so, Michael, can you give us some insight - Is NF doing anything else about long wait times or was that the fix?

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  36. BTW, why is there a 24 hour delay when shipping from an out-of-area distribution center??? I get an email notice telling me where the disk is physically located, so NF doesn't have to go looking for it. But the shipping process ("will ship today") does not even begin until the next day - or three days, if the first email is sent on Friday!

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  37. This sucks. While you go play in Sundace all my HD & Bluray dvds in my queue have been on Very Long Wait for weeks & weeks...

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  38. Is there any good netflix plug for media center edition that allows you to stream the movies using the new streaming service?

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  39. How soon will we know the movie locations for this summer. It has made two years of great vacations to match up a week to include a movie site.
    Suggesting Escape From New York shown at the site of the bridge scene at the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis.

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