• And The Oscar Goes To... iTunes

    Gone are the days in Hollywood when major film studios and production companies would use the good old postal system to ship DVDs of Oscar nominated films to Academy voters. These days, studio executives and Hollywood's promotional titans are capitalizing on the accessibility of iTunes to deliver nominated films to Academy and Screen Actors Guild voters.

    As the LA Times reported this week, tens of thousands of DVDs of movies - those that are still playing in theaters - "are sent by Hollywood studios to Oscar, Golden Globe and other awards voters." That process, however, is in the midst of drastic change. And this year's Academy Awards ceremony reflects exactly that.

    With concerns over film piracy at a fever pitch, Hollywood at large is hoping to dramatically reduce the number of films that are illegally copied, bootlegged, or wrongfully shared and distributed online - a phenomenon that industry analysts say continues to negatively impact theater-ticket and DVD sales.

    Ahead of the Screen Actors Guild awards on Sunday, Fox Searchlight this month became the first studio to have nearly 100,000 SAG voters view new movies such as "Black Swan" through a free download from Apple Inc.'s iTunes store. Paramount Pictures, Focus Features and other studios did the same later with movies such as "The Fighter" and "The Kids Are All Right." In all cases, downloads are set to expire 24 hours after being viewed and are not available to the public.
    According to the LA Times report, studios may print warnings - or outright legal threats - on the custom movies that "instruct viewers to destroy the DVDs and not distribute them," but such warnings are rarely heeded - at least not before the flicks get "passed around to family and friends." As a result, Sony Pictures' chief technology officer, Mitch Singer, says his studio - a major one at that - will be among many this year to wind down the use of "physical screeners." iTunes will be the alternative.

    LA Times
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