December 22, 2015
Pirated 'Hateful Eight' Screener Traced Back To Hollywood Executive, Claims He's Innocent

Pirated copies of Quentin Tarantino's Hateful Eight, Alejandro González Iñárritu's The Revenant, and more found their way online earlier this week. The Hollywood Reporter just landed an exclusive scoop, one that says a copy of Tarantino's Hateful Eight leak has been linked to Andrew Kosove, a top Hollywood executive and co-CEO of the production-finance company Alcon Entertainment.

Pirated 'Hateful Eight' Screener Traced Back To Hollywood Executive, Claims He's Innocent
Producer Andrew Kosove attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Prisoners" at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on September 12, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. [Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]Kosove was sent the Hateful Eight screener -- which is an advanced copy of a film or TV series specifically sent to film critics, awards voters and other industry professionals. However, Kosove claims he is innocent in this case.

"I've never seen this DVD," Kosove tells the Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive interview. "It's never touched my hands. We're going to do more than cooperate with the FBI. We're going to conduct our own investigation to find out what happened."

The screener of the film that Kosove claims he never touched was signed for by an office assistant, which later leaked online to several file-sharing websites. Despite Kosove's claims, the FBI, working with The Weinstein Company, pinpointed the source of the leak to Kosove's copy, due to a watermark on the disc that was sent to him.

When DVD screeners are leaked onto the internet, most of the time they are tagged "DVDSCR", and usually have an on-screen graphic watermarked with the receiver's email address. In 2003, the MPAA became fearful of piracy, announcing that they would no longer send screeners to Academy members. However, when independent filmmakers responded with a lawsuit against them, the MPAA lost and allowed the screeners to be sent. But this time, they would be mailed with a new policy that asked recipients to sign a contract, stating that they would not share the copy with anyone else.

FBI agents are visiting Alcon's Century City headquarters Tuesday to determine the chain of custody of the DVD and who is responsible for its uploading. Alcon is cooperating fully in the investigation. Kosove issued a public statement.

"The Screener copy of The Hateful Eight that was sent to me at Alcon Entertainment never touched my hands nor was I aware that it had been delivered. In addition to cooperating with the FBI, we are going to conduct our own investigation to find out what happened. Piracy is a threat to our entire industry and as filmmakers we will not tolerate such illegal and despicable behavior."
It is very possible that Kosove is simply a victim in this incident and had nothing to do with the Hateful Eight screener getting leaked online. Someone else, an employee, at Alcon could have somehow gotten a hold of the copy and uploaded it to the internet, or someone who either had the screener given to them or stole it could be responsible for the Hateful Eight leak.

In any event, there were between 200,000 and 600,000 downloads of the film, depending on a number of differing reports, on the very first day it leaked online. Physical pirated copies of Hateful Eight have even been seen being sold on street corners in China and other markets.

Film screeners have become a Hollywood tradition during the annual awards season, the last two to three months of the year. It's generally accepted that a distributor is all but required to send screeners to the voting members of the Academy, Screen Actors Guild, and other awards bodies if a film hopes to garner nominations for Oscars, SAG Awards, and other accolades.

Pirated 'Hateful Eight' Screener Traced Back To Hollywood Executive, Claims He's Innocent
Zoe Bell, Walton Goggins, James Parks, Tim Roth, Quentin Tarantino, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Craig Stark, Demian Bichir and Samuel L. Jackson attend a Hollywood Walk Of Fame Ceremony Honoring Quentin Tarantino on December 21, 2015 in Hollywood, California [Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images]Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, which is getting very positive reviews, is the filmmaker's eighth film, which stars Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Demian Bichir, and Michael Madsen.
[Image via The Weinstein Company]