The FBI has traced a stolen awards screener of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight to Alcon Entertainment co-CEO Andrew Kosove, and agents paid him a visit at his office today. Kosove, who was notified of the theft by the Bureau on Monday, told Deadline he is cooperating fully with the investigation and denies any involvement in the pirating of the film.
“I have never seen this DVD,” Kosove said in a phone interview. “I was not even aware that it had come into the office. I have zero idea what happened. But we are proactively cooperating with the FBI to find out what happened. At the moment, nobody knows anything, but I promise we will find out. And I am praying that it had nothing to do with anyone at our beloved company.”
If it turns out that someone in the office stole the screener, he said, “There will be appropriate measures.” By that he means they’ll be fired and face criminal charges.
“It’s a serious thing,” Kosove told Deadline. “It’s no different than taking cash out of the drawer. It’s the same thing. It’s theft.”
This isn’t the first time The Hateful Eight has been marred by piracy, of course. Tarantino famously declared the film dead in January 2014, after his draft script — shared with only a handful of people — leaked online and several sites posted it in full. At least this time, Hateful Eight is not alone. The leak is part of a potentially much more serious operation by a group calling itself Hive-CM8, which claims to possess some 40 leaked Oscar screeners it intends to distribute online. In addition to Tarantino’s Western, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s The Revenant also was leaked as a demonstration.
Whether or not the actual culprit is identified, the theft isn’t unique nor is the problem new. Last year, for example, the feds got involved after digital copies of The Expendables 3 hit the Internet before the film hit theaters. And in 2011, pirated copies of the J.J. Abrams film Super 8 were traced back to The Howard Stern Show.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported the Hateful Eight screener theft’s connection to Alcon.