Every year, awards season in Hollywood is foreshadowed by its illegal relation: screener season. This is the time when pirated copies of DVD screeners (mailed to industry insiders ahead of the Oscars and Golden Globes) begin to show up online. Last year saw a glut of screeners hit the internet before Christmas, but 2016 / 2017 is quiet by comparison, with just five DVD screeners currently circulating online.
Pirated copies of Arrival, Moonlight, La La Land, Patriots Day, and Fences are all available. As usual, these torrents are tagged “DVDScr” and have much higher quality than other early leaks (often recorded using handheld cameras). This is slow going for screener season, with the 2015 / 2016 period seeing dozens of high-quality copies of films published by a single group (HIVE-CM8) before the end of the year.
The reason for this downturn isn’t clear, but TorrentFreak notes that “at least some pirate groups have become a bit more cautious with their release strategies.” For example, HIVE-CM8 is responsible for a couple of these leaks, but has said it’s no longer publishing copies of films before they debut in theaters. Last year, the group even apologized for leaking The Hateful Eight before it hit cinemas, while also trying to claim that doing so had created “a new type of media hype.”
Action taken against leakers might also explain the quiet season. In February last year, a 31-year-old who worked in the entertainment industry was arrested by the FBI for uploading copies of DVD screeners including The Revenant and The Peanuts Movie online. After all, without insiders to upload the films in the first place, pirates don’t have anything to distribute.