The Expendables 3 might need its own crack team of mercenaries to combat a haemorrhaging of box-office bucks from illegal downloading.
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Barney and his team, known as "The Expendables", come into conflict with ruthless arms dealer Conrad Stonebanks, the Expendables' co-founder, who is determined to destroy the team.
Just 10 days away from the US and Australia release date, The Expendables 3 juggernaut is in danger of being hijacked by internet piracy.
The $90 million Sylvester Stallone-led ‘‘action porn’’ blockbuster has been hit by more than 2 million illegal downloads since it leaked online last week, trade papers report.
The third in the series, directed by Australian Patrick Hughes, looked set to build on the box-office success of its predecessors, with 2010’s The Expendables bringing in $275 million and 2012’s The Expendables 2 reaping $305 million globally.
The star-studded ensemble features a roll call of Hollywood heavyweights, young(ish) and old, including Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and Antonio Banderas. The latest outing of the trilogy sees the team of mercenaries pitted against Gibson as villainous arms dealer Conrad Stonebanks. A fourth film in the series has already been planned.
But profits could be hit big time: Variety quotes research by Carnegie Mellon University that suggests piracy can hit box-office revenues by 19 per cent.
At the same time, however, there’s also the suggestion that piracy can work well as pre-publicity, creating a buzz and taste for blockbusters that can encourage people to catch films on the big screen as well.
Lionsgate, the Hollywood studio distributing the film, is reportedly suing 10 individuals it believes are responsible for the leaks, says The Hollywood Reporter.
The claim not only seeks injunctions against linking to the movie but is also attempting to shut the relevant websites down. Websites quoted in the lawsuit include limetorrents.com, played.to and billionuploads.com.
The leak hits as the co-chief executive and chairman of the Australian distributor, Village Roadshow, warns that online piracy has reached ‘‘a crescendo’’. Graham Burke said its box-office had suffered a 12 per cent hit in the past month due to piracy. Box office in the US this summer is down about 30 per cent compared to the same time last year, though piracy can hardly be considered the only cause.
The Australian government released a discussion paper looking at a piracy crackdown last week.
The government is stepping up action after increasing evidence that Australia is one of the worst countries in the world in terms of downloads, with suggestions that 3 million people a month get content this way.
Attorney-General George Brandis told the Senate in June: ‘‘Australia, I'm sorry to say, is the worst offender of any country in the world when it comes to [online] piracy, and I am very concerned that the legitimate rights and interests of rights holders and content creators are being compromised by that activity.’’