Fox Searchlight Releases SAG Screeners on iTunes

In recent years the Hollywood movie studios have been running scared. Freaked out that movie piracy and online downloads would destroy their business, the studios have reacted in much the same way the music industry did in the early days of Napster. But it looks like the industry might finally be coming around, and learning to embrace the new technologies and digital distribution. In the end I think whenever the consumer wins, the pirates lose. Every year studios distribute awards season screeners to critics and the various industry guilds. I remember when DVDs came into popularity, the studios were afraid to release screeners on the digital disc format as it would give would-be pirates a perfect digital copy of movies still playing in theaters. Of course, they eventually switched from VHS to DVD screeners (and this year even sent out the completed blu-ray release of The Social Network, but only a month before the retail release).

Today it was announced that Fox Filmed Entertainment is making Fox Searchlight screeners available to Screen Actors Guild members through iTunes. This means that 100,000 SAG members will begiven codes to download high defintion digital copies of Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan and Conviction. The studio is considering expanding the iTunes screener distribution to AMPAS, BAFTA and other organizations. It will be interesting to se if any other studios follow suit, and to see how many years before all the screeners are released as digital downloads.

Chances are you don’t get sent award screeners and this news means nothing to you. I don’t recieve award screeners either, but I thought the switch to digital distribution was an interesting one. You can read the press release after the jump.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FOX FILMED ENTERTAINMENT BRINGS SCREENERS TO SAG MEMBERS ON ITUNES

Fox Searchlight Pictures’ 127 HOURS, BLACK SWAN and CONVICTION available starting today on iTunes to eligible voting members of the Screen Actors Guild

LOS ANGELES, CA (January 7, 2011) __ Fox Filmed Entertainment (FFE) and iTunes are offering nearly 100,000 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) members Fox Searchlight Pictures’ 127 HOURS, BLACK SWAN and CONVICTION in HD from iTunes for viewing on their iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Mac or PC, or with Apple TV on their HD TV. The films will be available to members from January 7-28 during the SAG awards consideration window.

In the past, studios have faced security concerns and prohibitive costs to create and distribute screeners to organizations with large numbers of voters. For the first time ever, FFE’s Fox Searchlight Pictures and iTunes allow the studio to make the screening of films still in theatrical release available to all SAG members who are eligible to vote, in a more secure and cost effective manner. Fox is discussing a similar arrangement in the future with AMPAS, BAFTA and other organizations to implement this new way to present their films for consideration.

“We are thrilled at the nominations these fantastic films have received from this prestigious group, and while we would always prefer voters see films in a theaters, we realize that is not always possible, so we wanted to make sure as many voters as possible have the opportunity to screen them. iTunes enables us to make our films still in theatrical release available to a large number of important voters,” said Jim Gianopulos, Chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment.

“We’ve worked with Fox to bring their films to SAG members in an innovative way,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of Internet Services. “We think the voting members will enjoy being able to view these films however they choose, whether on their iPad, iPhone or with Apple TV.”

Fox Searchlight Pictures’ SAG Awards nominations are: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, James Franco – 127 HOURS; Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, BLACK SWAN; Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, Natalie Portman – BLACK SWAN; Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, Mila Kunis – BLACK SWAN; and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, Hilary Swank – CONVICTION.

Screen Actors Guild members can obtain information on receiving their redemption codes at www.foxsearchlight.com/SAG.

About Fox Filmed Entertainment

One of the world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures, Fox Filmed Entertainment produces, acquires and distributes motion pictures throughout the world. These motion pictures are produced or acquired by the following units of FFE: Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Animation and Fox International Productions.

About Fox Searchlight Pictures

Fox Searchlight Pictures is a specialty film company that both finances and acquires motion pictures. It has its own marketing and distribution operations, and its films are distributed internationally by Twentieth Century Fox. Fox Searchlight Pictures is a unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, a unit of Fox Entertainment Group.

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