In what has become an anxious holiday ritual for Hollywood, pirated copies of DVD screeners of Oscar-contending films have leaked online.
The group calling itself Hive-CM8 announced that it released copies of four films — a “gift” for the Christmas holiday, according to Torrent Freak.
On Christmas Eve, it release the drama Last Flag Flying, noting “Merry Christmas and stay tuned.” A few hours later, the group distributed pirated copies of I, Tonya, Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name, all buzzy awards-season titles, together with holiday greetings — and an odd plug urging people to see these films in theaters.
“Don´t forget watching a Screener is not like the real thing, you should still all go to the cinema and support the Producers,” the release notes read. “We are especially sharing this for the people who can’t visit the cinema due to illness, or because it is a limited release that doesn’t make it to their country. So those people also can experience some award nominated movies..Enjoy.”
The same group also appears to be the source of a leaked version of another awards hopeful, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, according to posts on Reddit’s piracy board.
Hive-CM8 has been behind movie leaks including distributing a pirated copy of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight before its theatrical premiere — an act that was blamed for hurting ticket sales and for which it apologized.
“We feel sorry for the trouble we caused by releasing that great movie before [its release date] had even begun. We never intended to hurt anyone by doing that, we didn’t know it would get that popular that quickly,” Hive explains.
The FBI traced a stolen screener to Alcon Entertainment co-CEO Andrew Kosove, who said he had never even seen a copy of the DVD and had “zero idea” how The Hateful Eight wound up in the hands of movie pirates.