How to Obtain a Screening Copy of a Movie in Theaters

By Zakiya Lathan

Updated September 22, 2017

Access screening copies of movies as a member of a dominant film industry labor union.
i movie reel image by Maria Bell from

Watch movies currently playing in theaters, without paying exorbitant ticket prices -- all from the comfort of your home. You can do this legally if you are an authorized film industry professional evaluating a screening copy of a film. Quite often, the evaluation is for industry award judging purposes. Access to screening copies of movies, called screeners, is often given to select members of the dominant film industry labor unions, such as The Screen Actors Guild and The Writers Guild of America.

Join a film industry labor union such as The Directors Guild of America, The Screen Actors Guild of America, or the The Writers Guild of America. Access to screening copies of movies is usually by invitation only. This is the first step, however, that you can take in order to become eligible to receive such an invitation.

Keep your membership in good standing. Keep your dues current. Also, actively participate in industry events.

Keep your contact information up to date with member services. The email address on file with your film industry labor union must be current. This way, you will be able to receive links to secure sites for viewing digital copies of movie screeners online. Likewise, your mailing address on file with your union must also be current in order to receive DVD screening copies of movies

Wait for your invitation and for awards ballots.


To gain membership in a film industry labor union, you usually must obtain work in a union-affiliated project first. For instance, to be eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild, you must work on a SAG film in a principal role, for at least 15 days. Performing as a movie extra doesn't count. To become eligible to join the Writers Guild of America, you must work as a writer, within the guild's jurisdiction, for a company that has agreed to the labor union's collective bargaining agreement. You must receive credit for writing a specific number of "units" of work to be eligible to join the WGA. These are just examples of requirements for membership. Each labor union has its own specific rules for membership.