The Federal Bureau of Investigation is working to determine how a screener copy of Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film The Hateful Eight leaked online, where it has already been illegally downloaded more than a million times.
The leak of the film has been traced back to Alcon Entertainment co-CEO Andrew Kosove, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Kosove was reportedly sent a copy of the screener in advance of the Academy Awards, but told THR he had never touched nor seen the DVD. Indeed, an office assistant named “Tom” reportedly signed for the DVD, which was ultimately determined to be the leaked copy based on a unique watermark assigned to the disc.
“I’ve never seen this DVD,” Kosove told the outlet. “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.”
FBI agents reportedly visited the Century City offices of Alcon Entertainment on Tuesday. Hateful Eight distributor The Weinstein Co. is also working with the FBI to determine what happened.
The Hateful Eight is not the only unreleased film to leak in recent days. A group calling itself Hive-CM8 claims to have acquired 40 Oscar-tipped or holiday films and has promised to upload them “all one after each other.” TorrentFreak reports that high-quality copies of The Revenant, Steve Jobs, Joy, Creed, In the Heart of the Sea and Legend have all appeared online in recent days.
Of course, The Hateful Eight was a victim of piracy well before Tarantino shot the film’s first frame; in January of last year, the director sued Gawker Media for hosting a link to a leaked copy of the script. Tarantino said he had abandoned plans to make the movie after the leak, but later withdrew the lawsuit and began work on the film anyway.
High-quality screeners intended for Academy voters routinely get intercepted and posted online, usually between late December and January, in what gleeful movie pirates call “screener season.” However, in some cases, unreleased films can be leaked in summer; The Expendables 3 was famously leaked online in July 2014, three weeks before its scheduled premiere date.