Screeners are advance copies of recent movies that are generally sent out to critics and awards voter for review.
Some of these copies end up in the hands of pirates and are subsequently published online. This includes screeners of potential Academy Award nominees, which usually appear around December.
Netflix Screeners Leak
Over the past two years, this trend was broken. In 2020, the first movie screeners surfaced in October and this year the Netflix movies “The Power of the Dog” and “The Guilty” leaked even earlier.
While the leaked films are labeled as screeners, they don’t appear to be the typical award show releases. Instead, release group EVO hinted that they were sourced from a film festival. The name of the festival was kept private but in our earlier report, we mentioned the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) as an option.
TIFF is in full swing and both Netflix titles are on the ‘screening’ program there. This could all be a coincidence but after the films leaked, TIFF was quick to hire a takedown service to have links to the leaked movies removed from Google’s search results.
TIFF Issues Takedown Requests
With these types of prominent leaks, we always keep an eye on online enforcement activities. Initially, we expected that Netflix would be quick to issue a series of takedown requests but, thus far, the Toronto Film Festival has been the most active.
Shortly after the leaks became public, the renowned anti-piracy outfit Web Sheriff sent a series of takedown notices on behalf of TIFF, asking Google to remove hundreds of URLs from its search engine. These links point to leaked screener copies of “The Power of the Dog” and “The Guilty.”
The takedown notices are not direct evidence that the leaks originate from TIFF. After all, the festival secured permission to broadcast the titles, so it could be simply be protecting its ‘rights.’
That said, this week’s notices only cover the leaked screeners and they are the first takedown requests TIFF has sent in nearly a year.
No Official Comment Yet
The above makes it more likely that the film festival is inadvertently the source of the leak. We reached out to the festival requesting a comment on our findings and its potential link to the pirated screeners but the organization didn’t immediately reply.
When screeners of “Falling” and “My Salinger Year” leaked last year we identified the annual Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) as a potential source. The leaks appeared shortly after they were screened at the festival, but this potential connection was never officially confirmed.