At the end of the year, movie industry insiders traditionally receive their screener copies, which they use to vote on the Oscars and other awards.
This used to be a massive logistics operation as tens of thousands of physical discs had to be sent through the mail. That is no longer the case.
Physical Screener Ban
Last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this week that physical screeners will no longer be allowed in 2021. According to the Academy, the transition is part of its sustainability efforts.
This decision was also the death sentence for the popular DVDSCR tag many pirates have followed closely for years. However, the end of the physical screener doesn’t mean that leaks are a thing of the past.
While it’s true that physical releases were vulnerable in the distribution process, digital screeners are far from bulletproof. This became apparent in recent weeks when several film festival-related screeners appeared online.
“Drive My Car” Leaks Online
Today we spotted another screener release and this one appears to be directly connected to the Oscars. The leaked release is a copy of Japan’s Oscar contender “Drive my Car,” which was won several film prizes already, including that of best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival.
The arthouse film isn’t a typical blockbuster but has received a lot of praise from critics. And since it appears to be the first screener leak in the Academy Awards’ digital era, the release deserves a callout.
Below is a screenshot that’s posted with pirated copies of the film. It clearly shows a watermark of the associated movie sales outfit The Match Factory, which is present throughout the film.
The pirated release has hardcoded English subtitles and is tagged with the group name OSCAR. That’s not a commonly known group as far as we know, which could mean that the OSCAR tag is used to hide the involvement of the real group.
This OSCAR tag has previously been used by a scene group in 2006 but hasn’t shown up in any Scene databases since then.
Another option is that OSCAR is a ‘hobby’ project from a foreign film enthusiast. When we searched through various databases we spotted the tag on two other film releases that were both Oscar submissions.
The first is “The Man Who Sold His Skin” from Syria, which was nominated in the Best International Feature Film as last year’s Academy Awards. The other OSCAR release is “True Mothers,” which was Japan’s Academy Awards submission in the same category last year.
We might just have spotted a pattern there…