Pirate versions of movies nominated for awards are starting to leak online ahead of Hollywood’s awards season.
“Screeners” of critically acclaimed films like “Arrival” and “La La Land” have appeared on piracy websites in the last few days, and more are likely to follow.
This is an annual problem for Hollywood. Ahead of the Oscars, the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes, and everything else, the judges for these events are sent out review copies, or screeners, of the films to watch — and some inevitably make their way online.
So far in 2017, there have been five major leaks, according to torrenting news site TorrentFreak: “Arrival,” a drama about first contact with aliens; “Hidden Figures,” a historical true story about NASA; “Patriots Day,” a thriller about the Boston Bombing, “Moonlight,” the story of a boy growing up in Miami; and “La La Land,” a romantic musical comedy.
There have been comparatively few leaks compared to last year’s awards season (so far), when a single group called Hive-CM8 leaked more than a dozen of 2016’s top movies, including James Bond movie “Spectre,” “Legend,” “Steve Jobs,” “Creed,” and Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” — before it even came out in the cinemas.
The group subsequently put out a bizarre apology in broken English, making the claim that it leaked the videos to help people who are unable to go to the cinema.
The statement read: “We wanted to share this movies with the people who are not rich enough or not able to watch all nominated movies in the cinema. Of course this files are not representing how they can be enjoyed in the cinema,”
“As said in our nfo, pleaase support the producers and watch all movies in the cinema on a big screen, like you should anyhow. The Producers need the money from ticket sales to get back the production costs.”
But that hasn’t stopped Hive-CM8 making a return this year. It was behind the leak of “La La Land.” In the description accompanying the release on torrent sites, the group appeals for people who have access to more unreleased screeners to get in touch, and says it doesn’t plan to publicly release everything it has.
“We are looking for the guys sitting at home with all the 30 discs and posting pictures all over the net,but not sharing with anyone,” the group wrote. “Not sure why you are hiding it can be done safe and secure, for private viewing only if requested … We are not going to do them all for public this year, sorry, but we do want to have them all!!”
Of course, movie studios aren’t happy to see these screener leaks happen — and will include anti-piracy measures with the films to try and prevent it. The screener DVDs might contain DRM (digital rights management) software that tries to prevent unauthorised copying taking place. And the films will often have unique watermarks, so that if one leaks, the studio can (in theory) trace it back to whoever was sent that particular watermarked version.
But every year, some screeners leak nonetheless — and these leaks are often some of the best films of the year, because those are the ones being sent to awards judges for consideration.