Pirated version of highly-anticipated films and popular TV shows are emerging online as piracy continues to plague the media industry.
They say that history repeats itself, and that has never been truer than in the case of movie piracy. Last year during award season, some of the most highly anticipated films of the year were available to watch or download on pirate sites even before their theatrical release in the cinema. Some blame the constant rise of movie piracy on the culture of piracy within the Millennial Generation, others blame expensive cinema tickets and falling wages; either way piracy keeps hitting the Movie Industry and is showing little sign of easing in the coming year.
What are screeners?
'Screeners' are versions of films sent to critics and select group of fans to review for their various awards. They have to exist, but it is always through screeners that high-quality content finds itself being pirated online. Already, screeners of critically-acclaimed films like 'La La Land' are available on illegal pirate sites.
Since the advent of big budget TV shows with global audiences, TV content producers have found themselves in the crosshairs of pirate websites . This week the latest series of Sherlock, an award winning BBC production about the famous detective Sherlock Holmes, was leaked online before it was aired on TV.
A seasonal trend
This problem rears its ugly head annually during award season; however, as piracy and online streaming grow, the impact of a leaked version has become a greater threat to theatrical sales. Last year Red Points were contracted when 'The Hateful Eight', an award winning film directed by Quentin Tarantino, was leaked almost a week before its theatrical premiere in the USA, and almost a month before it cinemas in Europe. Leaked screeners can result in an estimated 19% drop in sales, which may not sound like a large amount but can make the difference between a future creative risk being commissioned or not.
In 2017 so far there have been a number of major films leaked. Torrent news website Torrentfreak state that several screeners are already available for download or to stream, such as: 'Hidden Figures', 'Patriots Day', 'Arrival' and most famously 'La La Land'.
There have also been a number of high profile TV leaks in recent years. 'Game of Thrones' (GOT) is probably the show most affected by this; the global phenomenon that is GOT is already the most pirated show in the world. Back in 2015, episodes of the then-current GOT series 5 were leaked before they were due to be aired.
For the movie industry, 2016 was one of the worst years on record for leaked films. One single organisation were able to leak over 12 top movies of the year, many of which were still in cinemas and some, like The Hateful Eight, hadn’t yet been released. Titles included: 'Spectre' the latest James Bond, 'Legend', and 'Creed'.
As the demand of online content increases, the question remains whether sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime video, and Hulu will be enough to satisfy, what appears to be, the need of an entire generation of media consumers. As Netflix and its competitors start to invest large sums of capital in big-name, online-exclusive, productions, we can only wait to see if this new form of production will be enough to quell the ever growing demand for on-demand content. And while this may save the creative industries as they shift to other delivery methods, it leaves the cinema industry in troubled waters with no clear path to safety.