It’s the most wonderful time of the year — for movie pirates. It’s screener season, when review copies of unreleased or just-released movies make their way onto torrent websites like the Pirate Bay and Kickass Torrents. Unlike the screener seasons of yesteryear, though, one of the groups responsible for leaking the movies has actually apologized, and now the FBI is involved.
Every year, just before award season, Hollywood studios distribute thousands of review screeners to industry insiders for consideration for Academy Awards and other upcoming events. Many of those titles are inevitably posted on piracy sites, where millions of visitors download free (albeit illegal) copies of highly anticipated movies that would otherwise cost them a trip to the cinema.
If bootleg movies have trickled to the internet in the past, then 2015 has been Niagara Falls, with “The Hateful Eight,” “Creed,” “In the Heart of the Sea” and at least a dozen other movies flooding the web.
Much of that is thanks to Hive-CM8, a scene group that specializes in obtaining movies that have yet to hit theaters and posting them online. (It often takes months for DVD-quality movies to appear on the Pirate Bay, the most popular piracy site, once they’re off the big screen.) The group has taken credit for “The Hateful Eight,” “Steve Jobs,” “The Martian,” “Creed,” “Bridge of Spies” and other big 2015 titles. The most recent of a promised 40 releases is “The Big Short,” which started circulating on Wednesday.
“We held back this title till one week after ... to give the movie a fighting chance to play in the budget, we learned from our mistake,” Hive-CM8 said in a statement released to TorrentFreak Wednesday. “We got the copies sold from a guy on the street, no decryption was needed. We were definitely not the only ones [to have obtained copies]. A couple of other movies had been on the net days before, not done by us.”
That announcement, an exceedingly rare public comment, came after the FBI and the Weinstein Company launched a probe into who uploaded “The Hateful Eight” before its Christmas Day release. Bureau agents visited the production finance company Alcon Entertainment last week to talk to CEO Andrew Kosove, who was sent the DVD that made its way online.
“I’ve never seen this DVD,” Kosove told the Hollywood Reporter last week. “It’s never touched my hands. We’re going to do more than cooperate with the FBI. We’re going to conduct our own investigation to find out what happened.”
It looks like the attention is starting to make Hive-CM8 nervous. The group also used its statement to directly apologize to “Hateful Eight” director Quentin Tarantino. “We feel sorry for the trouble we caused by releasing that great movie before [the intended release date]. We never intended to hurt anyone by doing that, we didn’t know it would get that popular that quickly.”