CATEGORIES Awards, Universal, Tech Stuff, Distribution, Steven Spielberg, Home Entertainment, Oscar Watch, Features, Movie News, Oscar News, Awards, CinematicalDespite the controversy over Spielberg's political leanings (not to mention the wishy-washy press "embargo"), Munich has thus far failed to make as much of an impact on the awards scene as many earlier predicted. That situation was not helped by yesterday's news that voters for the BAFTAs (Britain's version of the Oscars) were sent DVD screeners that most members could not watch.
It all ties into piracy paranoia. Remember months ago when the studios started signing up with Cinea to encode their DVD screeners? The idea was that voters would be sent special DVDs that could only play on Cinea-specific players, which would also be provided. This seems to have gone off without a hitch in most cases, but a customs snafu kept the screeners out of the hands of voters past the January 3 deadline for early voting. Universal issued an apology, promising that voters would get their screeners in time for the final deadline, and issuing a vaguely threatening warning: "Do not vote without seeing this extraordinary film." Numbers are not yet in in regards to how many voters actually obeyed this command, but those that did probably did not vote at all – when the screeners did arrive, they were encoded as Region One, which only works in the US and Canada, presumably Cinea-player be damned. As the film is not yet in British theaters, those who have not recently gone cinemagoing in the US will be unable to vote for it (if they choose to disobey Universal's orders and vote at all).
I think Eric Bangeman at Ars Technica sums this up best: "Region encoding is stupid, and like many of the other steps taken by the content-creation industry to protect its interests, it hurts consumers, he writes. "I'm wondering what the fallout from the situation withMunich and BAFTA will be. Spielberg is a major player in Hollywood, and I can't imagine he's pleased that his masterpiece will be ineligible for consideration for the British awards." "Masterpiece" might be stretching it, but what good are piracy regulations if keep the films in question from getting awards recognition, which is in itself primarily useful for its ability to jack up box office?