Hacked Oscar Seekers Became a Rare Breed *TorrentFreak
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Twenty years ago, copies of all Oscar-nominated films leaked online ahead of the official awards ceremony. Today, screeners have become a rare breed. It’s not just the result of increased anti-piracy protection. In fact, the shift to shorter release windows and streaming premieres likely had a much bigger impact.
The Oscars are the most anticipated film awards ceremony of the year, closely watched by hundreds of millions of moviegoers around the world.
It is also a special event for movie pirates. Traditionally, Oscar winners see an increase in unauthorized downloads. And in anticipation of the big day, pirated copies of reward selectors often leaked early.
From 100% to 9%
In the early 2000s, it was quite common to see filters of all Oscar contenders leaked online before the winners were announced. This has changed drastically over the years. Over the past decade, about half of all nominated films have leaked as a screener, and last year that percentage fell below 10% for the first time.
New data released by Oscar hack watcher Andy Baio suggests the downward trend is continuing. For all Oscar-nominated films this year, only three screens leaked, which tied with the all-time low of last year.
Admittedly, there are still a few weeks before the awards ceremony. However, usually all the filters are already out in February, so it’s safe to say that the downward trend is intact.
The same chart also includes another key statistic. The number of “high quality” leaks remains very high. These are HD ripped streams or Blu-Rays that are not filters. Last year, a high-quality copy of all the Oscar contenders was available before the awards, and this year 88% have already leaked.
Screeners are rates, leaks are not
This means that although filters rarely leak these days, leaks are still quite common. This can partly be explained by a radically changing film industry and the rise of streaming services.
Of all the films nominated for the 94th Academy Awards, more than half have been released on a streaming service. Netflix has a dominant position, but HBO Max and Disney+ have also contributed to this change.
When a movie is released on a streaming service, it is usually available on pirate sites the same day. These non-existent release windows are different from the months people have to wait for certain theatrical releases only.
As a result, pirates can get their hands on unauthorized copies of movies much faster. This effect is well illustrated by the median number of days between the official release of a film and a pirated leak. This number dropped after 2020.
That doesn’t mean screeners don’t exist anymore in the age of streaming. Depending on the release date, voters always need early access to a Netflix or Disney+ movie if it’s not yet on the platform.
Screener “The power of the dog”
That was also the case for “The Power of the Dog,” which topped the Oscars pack this year with 12 nominations. The film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst, was released on December 1, but a screen print already leaked last September.
Several other Netflix titles were also leaked early on, but none of them were nominated. These leaks are not necessarily reward filters. Information we have received from the lessor suggests they are linked to film festival screens.
Other Oscar-nominated movies that leaked screens are “Cyrano” and “Drive My Car.” These aren’t streaming versions, but this latest one has an interesting angle, as it was leaked by a group that used the “OSCAR” tag. It was prophetic, as the Japanese film received four Oscar nominations.
We expect the golden age of screeners will never return. Hackers will still release them if there isn’t high-quality copy online yet, but with shorter or no release windows, there’s simply less opportunity.