Two Netflix films broadcast on TIFF leak on pirate sites

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A digital sign advertising the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on September 9.

Chris Pizzello / The Associated Press

Two of Netflix’s top 2021 festival films have been leaked online after debuting as part of the Toronto International Film Festival’s digital home offerings.

Jane Campion’s drama “The Power of the Dog”, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and Antoine Fuqua’s thriller “The Guilty”, directed by Jake Gyllenhaal, both appeared on pirate sites as early as Monday morning.

It was not immediately clear whether the TIFF projections were the source of the pirated copies or whether they came from elsewhere. However, both films premiered over the weekend as part of TIFF’s hybrid festival model with screenings in theaters as well as virtually in homes across the country.

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Representatives for Netflix and TIFF did not immediately respond to the comments.

TIFF 2021: Discover our latest film reviews at the festival

The leaks are a nightmare storyline for Netflix which chose not to attend most film festivals last year, but has returned in recent months with some of its most lively upcoming films.

Piracy can erode a film’s box office prospects and derail some of the buzz that builds ahead of festival title awards season. For films still seeking distribution, this can also affect the chances of a lucrative sale.

Many in the Hollywood film community fear that making high definition copies available on digital festival platforms is almost a guarantee that these titles could appear on the black market.

But those same filmmakers and distributors have few options if they want to premiere their new films amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as many moviegoers are reluctant to congregate in droves as the Delta variant spreads. .

Virtual home screenings have become a solution, but the model has not been appreciated by many major international film festivals which thrive on the mass rallying of moviegoers.

Cannes, Venice, Telluride and the New York Film Festival have all chosen to host only in-person screenings this year with COVID-19 testing and security measures in place. Sundance introduced a virtual element last January, a practice it plans to continue next year in a hybrid edition.

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TIFF organizers were put in a more difficult position as Toronto only emerged from one of the longest lockdowns in the world during the summer, and its virtual component offered a way to ensure the festival didn’t would not be canceled if the number of cases skyrocketed.

Not all filmmakers and distributors agreed with the idea. Some of the festival’s biggest titles, including “Last Night in Soho” and “Dune”, have pulled out of the digital component.

TIFF organizers have taken various steps to deter piracy by warning before all in-person and digital screenings that recording is strictly prohibited and violators could be subject to legal action.

The digital home screenings included personally identifiable watermarks that appeared at various points in the film.

A separate selection portal for accredited press and industry uses a different watermark system that includes each user’s name and email address.

A copy of “The Power of the Dog” that spread across torrent sites did not include the opening Netflix logo, nor any visible watermark. It has been labeled as a “webscreener” by hackers, suggesting it was pulled from an online source.

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Both Netflix titles have release dates – “The Guilty” is set to debut October 1 on the streaming service after a limited theatrical release while “The Power of the Dog” is also slated to hit theaters before moving on. small screen in December.

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