Francis Poole, University of Delaware Library
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As you might know, at the end of the year, the motion picture studios
out tens of thousands of screening video copies (almost entirely DVDs,
now) of their films to members of the motion picture Academy (Oscar
voters), guild members, press (Golden Globe voters) and studio
It's the ONLY way that many films get seen, since few people actually go
to the screenings the studios set up in theaters and in screening
The practice began over twenty years ago.
MPAA president Jack Valenti has decided that these screeners are the
source of pirate copies of movies circulating in Asia. (He is partly
correct.) And so he has convinced the studios to not release any more
screeners. In doing so, essentially, he has accused everyone in the
business of being potential pirates, unworthy of being trusted with
own films! It's an ugly accusation, but Valenti -- who also warned the
studios that VCRs would lead to the studios' demise, in the late 1970s
-- doesn't care. Now, many films, mostly smaller films and independent films, will go completely unseen by Oscar voters and opinion makers. It's quite likely the studios will send out expensive swag in an effort to win support for their films, instead.
Indeed, every DVD is potentially a high-quality digital master copy of a film, and there is nothing Hollywood can do to stop this, short of destroying the entire DVD market and the billions in revenues it represents, worldwide. But then, perhaps that is what Valenti has in mind.
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