Movie Exec Says Studios Should Stop Sending Out DVD Screeners For The Oscars

from the this-has-been-tried dept

One of Jack Valenti's last great "battles" as the head of the MPAA was his fight against DVD screeners sent out for the various movie awards events. Valenti felt that sending screeners of all the nominated movies was a key factor contributing to unauthorized copies getting out into the world and on the internet. So he instituted a ban on sending out such screeners. This pissed off just about everyone. A bunch of really famous movie directors demanded that he drop the ban and the LA Film Critics Association actually canceled their own awards event in protest. Then, a bunch of independent film producers sued the MPAA. Basically, everyone pointed out that without the screeners, many of the voters simply wouldn't be able to see the movies being voted on, and that would hamper any awards effort -- especially for more independent films. Eventually, a judge sided with the producers, and explained to Valenti that he could not ban DVD screeners.

The following year, he came up with another plan, which involved special screener DVDs that only played on a special DVD player, which each voter would have to get and set up themselves. In other words, it was a "solution" that was a huge pain in the ass for everyone -- especially those who already had a perfectly good home theater setup. After a few years of everyone bitching and complaining about this, the MPAA finally relented in 2007, and went back to just sending out normal DVDs as screeners.

Apparently, some folks in the industry don't know their history. At the "Content Protection Summit" that we recently discussed, a VP from Summit Entertainment, the indie studio who has had some success lately thanks to the Twilight films and The Hurt Locker, apparently told the audience that the industry should get rid of DVD screeners, and who cares if it inconveniences people. She specifically said "we're going to have to agree to be inconvenienced." Apparently, she's totally unaware of how badly that worked out last time around -- especially for independent studios like her own.

Of course, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Summit Entertainment thinks this way. The company has built up quite a reputation for being an intellectual property bully. In the past 15 months or so, we've had multiple different stories of Summit's overly aggressive attempts at IP enforcement, often threatening or suing people doing completely reasonable things, such as creating a fanzine or filming a documentary about the town where Twilight is supposed to take place. And that's not even getting into questions about The Hurt Locker and its lawsuit campaign against thousands of file sharers -- because that was really done by the movie's producers, Voltage, rather than Summit. Of course, all these actions are doing is reminding me to avoid any pictures associated with Summit.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:47pm

    Central Question

    One central question in all of this. Did prohibiting screeners or requiring special DVD players significantly reduce piracy?

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:52pm

      Re: Central Question

      My guess is NO, just like with DRM and mostly every other thing that has been done for anti-piracy

       

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      PaulT (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 12:48am

      Re: Central Question

      Unlikely. Most "pirate" copies are from studio leaks or theatres, and so come out before Oscar consideration anyway. Even if it did, it only did so for a couple of months before the commercial DVD was produced, and at the expense of profits from the free marketing bump that an Oscar nomination tends to give (some movies are profitably re-released to cinemas even after the DVD release once an Oscar win comes through).

       

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    identicon
    I-Blz, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:53pm

    I-Blz is my name, not Coward.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:55pm

    A Factory!

    "Valenti felt that sending screeners of all the nominated movies was a key factory contributing to unauthorized copies getting out into the world and on the internet.
    [emphasis added]
    Factor, one would think.

    ; P

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

    "Those who cannot remember* the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana

    *void where prohibited

     

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    •  
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      Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 1:16pm

      Re:

      "The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace." -- Carlos Santana

       

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      •  
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        The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 2:08pm

        Re: Re:

        Carlos never watched ninja movies I guess.

         

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        interval (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 2:53pm

        Re: Re:

        "The spirit listens only when the speaker speaks in gestures. And gestures do not mean signs or body movements, but acts of true abandon, acts of largesse, of humor. As a gesture to the spirit, warriors bring out the best of themselves and silently offer it to the abstract." -- Carlos Castaneda (for the acid-droppers among the group.)

         

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    identicon
    wallow-T, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 1:27pm

    Where does one find an ongoing list of Summit Pictures films, so that one may avoid them? It seems harder than finding out which music artists are tied up with major labels.

     

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    Nina Paley (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    Studios Should Stop Sending Out DVD Screeners

    I agree! DVDs are a waste of plastic. Just put the movie on the internet and let the awards voters download it. It costs less for the filmmaker (making and mailing DVDs is expensive) and is better for the environment.

     

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      identicon
      Sun, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 2:54pm

      Re: Studios Should Stop Sending Out DVD Screeners

      Netflix has drm. You could custom encode each DVD screener with a unique tracking id embedded into the image then jail the screener. One good jail time would prevent the others.

       

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    ervserver (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    solution

    The best solution is to ban The Oscars altogether

     

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    identicon
    BruceLD, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 2:16pm

    Subject

    Yes. Banning DVD screeners will stop piracy forever.

    We also know how the movie industry lobbyists are crying to law makers that they are suffering devastating financial losses due to piracy (the public financial records actually show that the MPAA are breaking previous years financial records).

    YES! Piracy will end FOREVER because of the ban! *shrug*

     

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    identicon
    Danny, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 2:21pm

    Get a litte feather in your hat....

    and all of a sudden you think you run sh!t.

    At the "Content Protection Summit" that we recently discussed, a VP from Summit Entertainment, the indie studio who has had some success lately thanks to the Twilight films and The Hurt Locker, apparently told the audience that the industry should get rid of DVD screeners, and who cares if it inconveniences people.

    That's it in a nutshell. I'd bet she wouldn't have said that before they got their hands on those movies and made a bit of a name for themselves. It seems like the key to getting and saying famous is to get famous and then commit any act no matter how unholy, dishonest, or immoral it may be in order to stay famous.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 2:52pm

    I approve of not sending any screener.
    Nobody is doing a better job at cutting their own profits then the people representing them.

    LoL

     

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    identicon
    unkown, Sep 25th, 2011 @ 11:00pm

    price

    i found a academy screenig tape and i want to know how much its worth ???

     

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    identicon
    unkown, Sep 25th, 2011 @ 11:02pm

    price

    i found a academy screenig tape and i want to know how much its worth ???

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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