Pirating the Oscars 2016

Every year since 2003, I’ve tracked the illicit distribution of Oscar-nominated films online in the ongoing war between Hollywood, the MPAA, and a bunch of scrappy kids on IRC.

I just updated all the data in my spreadsheet, now encompassing 445 nominated films from the last 14 years. You can view or download the data on Google Sheets.

In my analysis last year, I wrote about how the percentage of screener leaks seemed to be going down for the last few years. While increased accountability for Academy members and greater awareness of tracking tools may have contributed to the decline, it seemed more likely that DVD screeners themselves were growing obsolete.

Movie studios have been slow to adapt to Blu-ray for Oscar screeners, making them unappealing for online piracy groups compared to other HD sources.

The exception is when the screener is the only copy of a film that’s available, and thanks to the efforts of a single group this year, we saw a small spike in the number of leaked screeners.

A group named Hive-CM8 released an incredible 15 screeners in the nine days between December 20-29, almost all nominated for Oscars: The Hateful Eight, Creed, Legend, In the Heart of the Sea, Steve Jobs, Joy, Concussion, The Danish Girl, Spotlight, Bridge of Spies, Spectre, Trumbo, Suffragette, The Big Short, and Anomalisa.

They originally promised to release a total of 40 screeners, but stopped short either because of a security breach or a guilty conscience, depending on who you believe.

As a result, screeners for fully half of this year’s 32 nominated films have already leaked online.

The median number of days from a film’s release to its first leak online was only nine days, the shortest window since 2008. Only one nominee hasn’t leaked online in any form: the Brazilian film Boy & the World, nominated for Best Animated Feature. A webrip of Boy & the World was released on September 30, 2014.

More than a month before the ceremony, 97% of Oscar nominees have leaked online in DVD or higher quality, more than last year at this time.

Also worth noting: the number of camcorder and telesync releases continues to decline, with only five of this year’s nominees released as cams. This is partly because they’re low quality, but also attributed to fewer mainstream films nominated for Oscars. (Only major blockbusters like Star Wars tend to be worth the risk and trouble to record in theaters.)

Methodology

This year, I very nearly had to abandon the project because reliable sources for leak metadata continue to disappear. Orlydb went offline entirely, VCD Quality is woefully outdated for film releases, and others have stopped tracking films entirely.

Fortunately, I was able to find one comprehensive database: d00per, which is the sole source for all leak metadata this year. If you know of any reliable secondary sources for a pre-db with a decent search engine, let me know. (You can test with Anomalisa and Hateful Eight, which seem to be missing from all but d00per.)

For my spreadsheet, I include the full-length feature films in every Oscar category except documentary and foreign films – even music, makeup, and costume design.

I use IMDB for the release dates, always using the first available U.S. date, even if it was a limited release.

The official screener release dates are from Academy member Ken Rudolph, who kindly lists the dates he receives each screener on his personal homepage.

Questions, corrections, or additions? Get in touch on Twitter or leave a comment.

4 thoughts on “Pirating the Oscars 2016

  1. its seems piracy costs is all in the end and look at scale of it ,especially with china in the electronics industry . the problem is after investing millions of dollars into a project you need at least that money back to fund the next project and without many people are going to loose their jobs .

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