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‘Expendables 3’ Leaked Online. What Does It Mean for Indie Filmmakers?

'Expendables 3' Leaked Online. What Does It Mean for Indie Filmmakers?

How much damage can piracy do? Take the national average ticket price of $8 and multiply it by the 200,000 people who have already illegally downloaded “The Expendables,” and Lionsgate just lost a theoretical $1.6 million. Of course, not everyone who pirated the film would pay to see it in theaters (which is also the excuse people give when illegally downloading), but still, this breach illustrates just how damaging piracy can be and just how fast (especially when you consider that the average indie film grosses nowhere near $1.6 million).

Here’s what we know: three weeks ahead of its U.S. premiere, about 190,000 high-quality copies of “The Expendables 3” have been downloaded via piracy sites in just over 24 hours, Variety reports. According to Excipio, which analyzes piracy data, as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday the action movie had been downloaded 189,052 times worldwide, with 42,216 of those downloads in the U.S. Torrentfreak, which reports on film piracy, said the film has been downloaded more than 200,000 times using BitTorrent alone. And, of course, it will only spread more – and fast.

How will this affect box office for the film, which Lionsgate plans to release August 15? Lionsgate hasn’t commented, but Nu Image, the production company behind all three “Expendables” titles, sued previous downloaders of its titles, according to BitTorrent.

READ MORE: Here’s How Piracy Hurts Indie Film

In a recent Op-Ed for Indiewire, Ruth Vitale, executive director of CreativeFuture, and Tim League, founder and CEO of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, opined on how piracy hurts indie film in particular. 

“The fact is: pirate sites don’t discriminate based on a movie’s budget. As long as they can generate revenue from advertising and credit card payments—while giving away your stolen content for free—pirate site operators have little reason to care if a film starts with an investment of $10,000 or $200 million,” wrote Vitale and League. “Whether you’re employed by a major studio or a do-it-yourself creator, if you’re involved in the making of TV or film, it’s safe to assume that piracy takes a big cut out of your business.”

Director Ti West has also weighed in, writing an open letter about the effects it has on indie films — in particular, films that premiere on VOD before a theatrical release.

“Films are more than just momentary entertainment; they are also works of art. Most of the time, filmmakers have devoted significant portions of their lives to tell these stories. If we have to think of it like a “suggested donation” sometimes, then so be it, but they need our support. Encourage risky filmmaking. Don’t let the ecosystem die,” wrote West.

Not everyone agrees that piracy is inherently bad for the industry, but everyone acknowledges that it is here to stay and filmmakers, distributors, theater owners and festivals will need to educate consumers and continue to adapt to the changing times.

“Piracy exists very much, and from our perspective, hasn’t really been a problem,” said Oscilloscope’s Dan Berger recently. “t’s almost something that you want to happen, that you strive for, because that’s when you know you’ve made it  – but at the same time, it is a thing that will grow and we have to figure out a way to combat that. Not everyone is going to pirate a movie and people are inherently willing to pay money for a product that they genuinely want and believe is good.”

Indiewire will continue to report on the issue of piracy in the coming weeks focusing on how it affects various aspects of the independent film industry.

This Article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit and tagged , ,



This author exhibits a pure ignorance about how the internet works. The fact of the matter is that, especially for indie films, there will be a large fraction of people who would’ve never watched the movie in theatres anyway. And for those who watched it and enjoyed it, just their word of mouth can be brilliant publicity for this movie which ultimately has little to no advertising budget.


So sad and hypocritical. How many filmmakers are downloading films? It’s bizarre canibalism! But most 50k production indie films would love 200k downloads in 24hrs, just to validated and build a real following.

Wise Guy

Lionsgate gets 100% profit from a 8$ ticket? Theaters gain no money from showing the movies?


This is a non-story. Piracy is non-issue or at least, not the vital issue some idiots in the industry make it out to be. They’re going to make a hell of a profit for years to come, so no one cares. Bye

Rafael D Gonzalez

TBH when the original Expendables movie was coming out i had no interest what’s so ever to watch a bunch of has beens that still worked with the military some how at the age of 50-60. I didn’t get the concept of it so I didn’t give it a chance. My cousininlaw and others decided to play it while camping on a projector. I didn’t wanna be the guy to say no so I said yea too, I hate action movies too. As I kid I loved them. Another thing movies that have sequels are made to watch in order, I asked if that’s the case in these movies. He said no. So I gave it a shot and I was actually impressed. The movie is actually about a bunch of has beens that still have it and jobs for when called on. The fact that I watched the leaked version will have me watch the 1st and 2nd and if those were bad It doesn’t matter I still loved part 3 that I will buy the DVD Bluray. I only buy movies that I will watch over and over in my life. Sandlot, predator, rocky series, goodfellas.


When I watched H. Ford in action in "The Crystal Skull", I could not even force myself to believe he was doing all that action, so it wasn’t make believe: no elderly man, specially not him, could do all that. VERY disappointing! AND TO SEE ALL…ALL THESE ELDERLY PEOPLE IN THIS KIND OF ACTION MOVIES? I just about vomited! Most of these guys need to work behind the camera.


If McDonald’s advertises a filet o fish with cheese and I buy it but there’s no cheese should I not be entitled to a refund. To hell the movie companies. Shut em down


Good for them. These movie companies advertise every new movie as the greatest blockbuster of all time, convincing people to spend their hard earned money on movie tickets but when the movie turns out to be a total pile of crap contrary to all the hype, movie companies don’t offer refunds. Be honest about the crap you put out it just might stop people from wanting to check it before they buy it


The reason why movie piracy happens is because movie goers can enjoy movies in the warmth and comfort of their own homes. Why pay 30 dollars to see a movie at a theater with popcorn and drink when at home, there aren’t strange children crying during a quiet scene and you have the ability to PAUSE for bathroom breaks. The convenience of home viewing has to be factored into the future models of movie distribution. And movie goers seek piracy more and more because of availability, pure and simple. When was the last time your cineplex played "The Sacrament" next to "Transformers"? With torrent sites, there is no distribution bias, and it actually encourages people to seek out titles that for whatever evil reason aren’t in their local theaters.


$8 movie tickets?!!! Where?!!! In major cities ticket prices start at $18 and can go up to $30 for 3D and Imax. I hardly go to movies anymore because I have better uses for my money than to spend it on garbage like The Expendables, Transformers etc., movies which gross 200 times the 1.6 million studios are whining about. I don’t pirate movies, I wait until they come on the streaming services and studios make money off that too so in the long run, that 1.6 is really just pocket change for the big boys.


Indies shouldn't worry about piracy…unless you've spent $40 mil on advertising no one knows your film exists…they ain't gonna pirate something they never heard of

ornery guy

"Films are more than just momentary entertainment; they are also works of art. "

From the mouth of Ti West. Presumably NOT about his movies.



'The fact is: pirate sites don't discriminate based on a movie's budget.'

Neither do most movie theater chains generally. Same ticket price for 'Boyhood' as 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.'

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