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Is Piracy to Blame for Turning 'Expendables 3' into Box Office Flop

Posted by: , 16:05 AEST, Wed August 20, 2014

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Pre-release piracy blamed for poor 'Expendables 3' box office results, but are there other factors in play?
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Image/Photo Credit: Lionsgate

The pre-release leak of 'The Expendables 3' on piracy networks some three weeks before the movie's theatrical release has disrupted the movie's ability to sell tickets, according to movie executives.

However, others says that there are other reasons why the movie starring action's biggest stars is a relative flop.

The distributors of the film, Lionsgate, is currently involved in a law suit against 10 individuals who downloaded and shared a copy of the leaked film, and chose not to comment on the film's box office misery. However, rival distributors say that the pirated leak definitely had an effect on the film's business.

"It got hurt", said one rival distribution executive when speaking anonymously to Variety. While Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst of, says "This is really a clear situation where this had an impact."

However, both also indicated that there were many other reasons why the movie didn't do as well as the two previous movies in the series.

Contrino says that what hurt the movie might not just be the downloads, with some 2.1 million users believed to have downloaded the film in the three weeks prior to the film's official release. Contrino says that "the word-of-mouth that spread as a result" of the download could be just as damaging, especially if the word of mouth suggests the movie isn't as good as the two previous offerings (and the current rating on IMDb seems to back up this point).

Some also say that "franchise-fatigue" could have been the main reason behind the movie's poor performance, with this being the third 'Expendables' film in just 4 years. 

"There was some audience rejection. When you go to the well too many times, you’re going to run out of gas," said the executive from a rival distributor.

Perhaps the most important reason could be the the crowded slate of hit movies currently doing the rounds. Rentrak media analyst Paul Dergarabedian says movies like "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" are all competing for the moviegoer's dollars.

"It's such a crowded marketplace," said Dergarabedian. "Even taking piracy out of the equation, it's so much competitive than we thought it would be."

"The Expendables 3" took in $16.2 million in its opening weekend, compared to $28.6 million for 'The Expendables 2' in 2012.


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