LOS ANGELES: The ban on "screeners" announced two weeks ago by major Hollywood studios and the MPAA has caused a major backlash in the entertainment community.
Dozens of entertainment-industry groups and individuals, from critics to high-profile actors and directors, have joined the chorus of protesters speaking out against the ban. While the volume of dissent has fed a media frenzy on the topic, the MPAA and the studios have remained firm in their decision to restrict their art-house subsidiaries from sending out DVD and VHS copies of awards-contender films to journalists and Academy voters.
Those issuing statements against the move last week included The National Society of Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Screen Actors Guild, and the American Film Marketing Association (AFMA), among several others.
"We strongly object to the MPAA's unilateral edict to ban the use of screeners in connection with Academy Award consideration," read the AFMA release. "This decision has devastating economic consequences for independent film companies. We urge that the decision be reconsidered immediately, and that the independents be included in any future deliberations."
Despite the protests, some studios have moved ahead with alternative plans for awards campaigns. Fox Searchlight, the art-house division of 20th Century Fox, announced it would hold more than a month of once-a-week free screenings for awards voters for upcoming film In America, while DreamWorks announced screenings for House of Sand and Fog.
Technology companies including CinemaNow, MovieLink, and Digimarc have all also used the ban to pitch stories on their own antipiracy technologies, which they bill as alternative ways for films to reach voters without the risk of unauthorized copying.