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I recently read that a DVD-quality rip of the upcoming The Expendables 3 film was available online and had been downloaded a few hundred thousand times already (edit: it is now estimated that the film has been downloaded over two million times illegally). This discouraged me quite a bit, because I want the film to be a huge hit so we can keep getting those awesome but little seen Stallone movies to keep coming out (ditto Statham and Schwarzenegger). The mega-budgeted film is already expected to gross less than the second installment, which grossed less than the first film despite being a superior movie by far. The news that part three is already being seen, and for free no less, before its domestic release just kind of pisses me off, and I imagine it pisses Stallone and company off as well.
There is precedent for this situation. In March of 2009, a nearly completed print of X-Men Origins: Wolverine was leaked online and downloaded many, many times. The final box office for the film was well below that of either X2: X-Men United or X3: The Last Stand. There’s no way to account for how much the leaked print cost the production (the film’s poor quality probably didn’t help either), but most analysts believe the leak did ultimately effect the box office take of the film. Leaked versions of nearly complete album releases have also dogged the music industry for years. After the rise of file sharing sites in the late 90s, it became almost impossible to keep this stuff out of the hands of crafty consumers.
I didn’t download X-Men Origins back in 2009 for several reasons. For one, I didn’t want to watch an incomplete version of the film (the leaked print notoriously had incomplete special effects shots). I also didn’t want to contribute to piracy for something I could easily see and pay money for. I have no problem downloading an obscure anime from the 1980s that will never be released domestically. I have an issue with downloading a mainstream X-Men movie that I can easily pay $7 to see. I’ve long been a fan of the X-Men, and I felt at the time (and still feel over five years later) that a movie ticket is a very small price to pay for the pleasure of seeing my childhood comic book heroes on the big screen. Additionally, I thought it was extremely shitty that someone leaked the movie in the first place. I mean, who does that?
I have similar thoughts and feelings about this Expendables 3 situation as well. I didn’t see the original Expendables film in the theaters, instead catching it after video release. I was just out of school and still searching for a job when it was released into theaters. I did see Expendables 2 in theaters and really enjoyed it. I thought it was a massive improvement over the first film in the franchise. Though they aren’t high art, I’ve been eagerly anticipating a third installment. I’ve come to cherish every Stallone and Schwarzenegger movie I’ve seen on the big screen in recent years because I know that at any moment we could potentially never get any more of them. Their movies just don’t make the money they used to, especially Stallone, who starred in three flops in 2013 alone (all three of which I saw in theaters).
I noted earlier that it was a shitty thing to do for whoever leaked X-Men Origins onto the internet for anyone to pirate for free. I feel the same way about whoever leaked Expendables 3. Please don’t contribute to this. Don’t download the movie. If you’re at all interested in seeing it, please support it in theaters and see it on the big screen. I don’t have much of an issue downloading something that is not easily commercially available. The Expendables 3 will likely be released onto well over 3,000 screens in just one short week. In lieu of downloading it, just get out and see it. I want more of these old school action movies after all.