Recently Variety posted an article titled Expendables 3 Flops: Is Piracy To Blame? in which a case is made whether or not the movie leaking onto torrent sites 3 weeks before its official release damaged it at the box office.
The movie fell short $10 million of its expected $26 million, debuting at $16.2 million in revenue which is atrocious when you compare that to other movies that debuted at the same time as it did like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Lets Be Cops.
I am stating the case that this was a deliberate leak from the studio themselves. A movie leaking its own movie weeks out from its release? Crazy, right? Well, not if you think about it logically.
Movie piracy is at an all time high and studios don’t know what to do. They’ve tried lobbying for three strikes policies, ISP level filtering and taking down the torrent sites themselves to no avail for years now.
The issue is while studios will have you believe that the industry is shrinking and dying, the good movies are still making great profits.
Here are some movies released in the last couple of years that have ranked amongst the most profitable movies of all time.
Rank #13 – Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) at $1,054,437,000
Rank #5 – Frozen (2013) at $1,274,219,009
Rank #6 – Iron Man 3 (2013) at $1,215,439,994
Rank #22 – Despicable Me 2 at $970,761,885
It might surprise you to know that not one single movie in the Expendables series has ranked even last on the highest grossing movies. The maximum amount this series has made is $34.8 million for the first movie, which while not completely horrible, still wasn’t that great.
Does that tell you something? It tells you this franchise is dead in the water and people have stopped caring. The fact the third movie was made for PG 13 audiences and up when the two previous films were R rated tells you something else as well. Young teens would prefer to see Guardians Of The Galaxy over a film comprised of dads favourite action stars from the 80’s and 90’s.
Is piracy sort of to blame?
You can’t rule out the fact a movie leaking almost a month before its debut and being downloaded by 2.2 million people would not have at least some effect, but I think the effect the leak had is being greatly exaggerated.
In 2009 the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine leaked before its release (albeit a unfinished cut, but still the full movie) and it went on to gross over $373 million at the Box Office, the movie had a budget of $150 million. Even though this particular X-Men movie received pretty bad reviews, it still went on to make a lot of money.
Why would a studio leak its own movie that they sort of probably knew was going to flop? They needed a scapegoat. The leak and discussion around lost revenue comes at a time when the entertainment industry is at a stalemate. They’ve tried lobbying for three strikes policies, they’ve tried getting the ISP’s to shoulder the blame and police users and they’ve tried suing infringers to no avail.
You can’t deny the paltry figure The Expendables 3 made at the Box Office looks pretty bad on paper, especially when your movie leaked almost one month prior, it makes for a pretty strong case that piracy was the reason when the sane of us know it wasn’t the contributing factor.
What better way to get people on your side and to try and turn the tide in the copyright/piracy debate than to present some harsh numbers that work in your favour?
You could call it a false flag attack on the entertainment industry. However, it’s just a theory and logical arguments like why would a studio fund a movie that they knew would flop and cost them lots of money and damage their reputation?