It’s 2015, and the Hollywood studios still have a huge problem with online piracy: 95 percent of the movies nominated for an Oscar this week, many of which are still in theaters, are available to download illegally online. TorrentFreak is describing the level of leaking as “unprecedented”, and most of the rips seem to come from screener copies of these films handed out to judges for the Academy Awards.
TorrentFreak says that 34 out of the 36 films up for an award this year, excluding documentaries and foreign films, are readily available on filesharing hubs. Only the animated movie Song of The Sea and the best original song nominee Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me are yet to find their way online one way or another. Some of these copies are from theater recordings, but many have been ripped directly from a quality digital source.
Two Days One Night was the first movie to break cover — appearing online almost two months before it arrived in theaters — while The Grand Budapest Hotel took longest to leak. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (up for a sound editing Oscar) is proving the most popular film right now, currently attracting more than two million downloads every week. The Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything has also proved popular with torrenters.
It’s a dispiriting picture for the studios and the people who work on these movies — despite the arrival of low-cost, all-you-can-watch streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, online piracy remains a huge issue. What will be even more galling to industry executives is that most of these leaks appear to come from inside the Academy: “Nearly all of the pirated screener copies appear to have been leaked from Academy sources,” says TorrentFreak in its comprehensive breakdown.
The 87th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, February 22 in LA and broadcast from 7pm ET, with Neil Patrick Harris hosting. In terms of overall nominations, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Boyhood and American Sniper are the movies leading the way.