Slated for release in U.S. cinemas on Christmas Day, hundreds of thousands of people will now have already seen Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight" and historical drama "The Revenant," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, after both high-profile films leaked on torrent sites days before their cinematic release.
The copies of the films are among a slew of high-profile films that have been pirated as part of what has become known as "Oscar screener season" by those who copy, share and download illegal, pirated copies of films. While the makers of films like "The Walk," "Steve Jobs," "Creed," "Brooklyn," "Straight Outta Compton" and "Carol" will all be angry at their films appearing on dozens of torrent sites, it will be the release of "The Hateful Eight" and "The Revenant" over the weekend — and before the films are even in cinemas — that will cause the most consternation among Hollywood executives.
Copies of films that studios consider as having a chance of getting an Oscar nomination are sent out on DVD to members of the Academy in the final weeks of each year. Their copies are known as "screeners" and are sent in secret and not meant to ever get into the hands of the general public. But as has happened for a number of years now, the films make their way into the hands of groups that release pirated copies online.
One such group is Hive-CM8 and accompanying its release of Tarantino's latest film over the weekend, the group said this was just the beginning. "DVDScreener 1 of 40. Will do them all one after each other, started with the hottest title of this year. The rest will follow." According to TorrentFreak, the copy of "The Hateful Eight", which is "extremely clean and free from timestamps", has been downloaded over 220,000 times already. The website adds that the copy of "The Revenant" is also "extremely good for such an early release and there are no obtrusive markers to spoil the experience." The DiCaprio vehicle appears even more popular than Tarantino's film, being downloaded over 300,000 times since its release.
The latest releases from the group include "Legend" the biopic of London gangsters the Kray twins starring Tom Hardy in both leading roles, and Ron Howard's "In The Heart Of The Sea," which has been released in U.S. cinemas but has yet to be released in Europe.
Piracy continues to be a huge problem for Hollywood, and while the biggest film of the year -- "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" -- has not appeared on torrent sites yet (aside from poor quality versions shot in cinemas), the appearance of all Oscar contenders at this time every year will surely be of big concern to the studios.