Ben Stiller’s recently released film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, has appeared online bearing a watermark from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, one of the biggest chat shows in the US.
Ellen DeGeneres is known to receive copies of film, shows & music her guests are appearing to promote, to be used as research before they are interviewed. It appears that her production team were given a copy of the film prior to Stiller’s 4th December 2013 appearance on the show. Along with DeGeneres name, the disk is dated 26th November 2013. 20th Century Fox, the film’s distributer, have confirmed that the watermark appears genuine.
DeGeneres, having previously hosted the Oscars in 2007, is due to host the 86th Academy Award Ceremony on 2nd March 2014. She had apparently not received the copy as advanced viewing before her second stint as Oscar host, as Oscar distributed DVDs are forensically watermarked.
Former Kickstarter Chief Technical Officer, Andy Baio, was the first to report on the film leak, writing about it on his blog on 9th January. Baio says that it is possible that someone uploading the film could have added the ‘Ellen DeGeneres’ watermark to cover their own identity, or to cover the original source.
The producers of the show released a statement, in which they said; “Our show is sent advanced screeners of movies, sitcoms, reality shows, CDs etc, before guests appear on our show. We do everything we can to protect the content and in 11 seasons nothing has ever leaked online from our show. We’re not sure if this leaked from our show or not, but we are doing everything we can to find out and to make sure it never happens again.”
It is unlikely that the film was uploaded by DeGeneres herself, and her show production staff or someone involved in the production or distribution of advanced copies could have accidently or intentionally uploaded the film online.
As we approach award season, there is an increase in films being uploaded online illegally, as more films are sent out as advanced screenings for the media and Academy members. In addition to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, in the past week, Frozen, Her and The Wolf of Wall Street have all appeared online.
This is not the first time a celebrity has been linked to a leaked film, as in 2011 a copy of Super 8, directed by J.J. Abrams, appeared online with the Howard Stern Watermark. On his radio show, Stern denied leaking the film online, and it appears that no one was ever found to be responsible for the leak.
In terms of online downloading in 2013, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was named the most-pirated film of 2013 by Torrent Freak, followed by Django Unchained and Fast and Furious 6. The most pirated TV show was Game of Thrones, followed by Breaking Bad.
Neither Ellen DeGeneres nor Ben Stiller have commented personally on the situation.
Read the article at focusfilm.co.uk