‘Expendables 3’ Illegally Downloaded 5 Million Times, But Still Isn’t Top Hit for Pirates

The Expendables 3

Pirates have voted on “The Expendables 3” with their clicks — and it turns out the Sylvester Stallone-starrer hasn’t been astoundingly popular among digital thieves, relatively speaking.

As of Sunday, 5.12 million people worldwide had pirated “Expendables 3” since a high-quality copy hit torrent-sharing sites July 23, according to piracy-tracking firm Excipio.

That likely contributed to the action movie’s dismal box-office debut this weekend. But over the same July 23-Aug. 18 time period, the movie was No. 4 in downloads, after “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (7.31 million), “Divergent” (6.29 million) and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (5.88 million). Moreover, that’s despite “Expendables 3” becoming available more than three weeks prior to the film’s U.S. theatrical debut.

For the week ended Aug. 18, the movie was the fifth most popular title on piracy services, with 1.54 million downloads. That trailed “Captain America” (2.61 million downloads globally), “Spider-Man 2” (1.70 million), “Noah” (1.62 million) and “Divergent” (1.55 million), per Excipio.

SEE ALSO: ‘Expendables 3’ Flops: Is Piracy to Blame?

“Expendables 3,” starring Stallone along with an ensemble cast including Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and Dolph Lundgren (pictured, above), garnered just $16.2 million at theaters in its opening weekend, well below that of the first two installments in the franchise and some $10 million below expectations.

It’s impossible to know how “Expendables 3” would have fared in the absence of piracy. A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University researchers estimated, based on several assumptions, that films subject to prerelease piracy generate 19% lower box-office revenue compared with those pirated after theatrical debut.

“There certainly are people who watched the pirated copies who weren’t going to see it anyway,” said Michael Smith, a professor of information technology and marketing at CMU and one of the study’s co-authors. “But the real fans are the ones who rush out on opening weekend, and what’s harmful is when it’s available on pirate sites before there is a legal channel to see it. You’re asking people to not only not see a pirated copy, but to wait a few weeks.”

However, it seems evident that other key factors conspired to depress the box-office take. Those include unfavorable reviews for the aging franchise (with a 35% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes), not to mention its aging cast. There was also the decision by producers to go with milder material in hopes of attracting a broader audience — the film has a PG-13 rating rather than the R of its predecessors.

The movie “smacks of desperation and teen-audience pandering from the literally bloodless action to the introduction of a younger, hotter backup team of fighters (call them the Hip Replacements),” Variety chief film critic Justin Chang wrote in his review.

Lionsgate, which is distributing “Expendables 3,” and producer Avi Lerner have declined to comment on the film’s piracy. The studio earlier this month won an injunction against 10 anonymous website operators, whom it sued for allegedly contributing to massive worldwide piracy of the movie prior to theatrical release.

— Brent Lang contributed to this article.

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  1. Ryan says:

    screw all you 5.12 million theifs . liongate should sue everone of those criminals and they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Soo sad what has happen and whats worst is a great deal of comments from other random people believe absolutely! believe the work of these unlawful no good human beens are not the result of 40 – 50% dropping box office wise which in the end will account on the finished world wide box office numbers . Alot of work went in this movie and organic organisms just stole , for everyone else who has enjoyed this film paying for a ticket keep up the rightfully honest way.

  2. Wayne says:

    In my opinion, a lot of these movie productions think way too much of themselves. I don’t care about pirated movies, script leaks, or leaks to key plot points. I will still go watch the movie if it interests me. I don’t understand why Tarintino even contemplated not making a movie just because of a leak. I haven’t read the leaked script and I’m sure the vast majority of movie goers didn’t either. WE DON’T CARE! If the movie is good we’ll watch it, buy the DVD and the T-shirt. Another example is Terminator salvation, why go re shoot the ending because of a leak. If I didn’t even here of the leak until after I watched the movie. Like I said, these movie productions think way too much of themselves to be thinking we sit around all day wanting to read leaked scripts, watch pirated movies, and spoil plot points for ourselves. There, I feel better now.

  3. The fact is the movie tanked because it sucked. I still maintain the leak was intentional…as a way to lay blame for what the studio must have known was going to be a bomb.RARE is it such a high quality..Screener grade copy gets out into a “pirates” hands. That thing appeared to be theatrical quality. Who would have access to such a thing?

    99% of the time a pirated film is either a poor quality CAM copy…or a DVD rip when they hit the retail shelves. This was neither..this was something that would be given to a professional reviewer or as a sales tool to get it onto screens.

    This whole thing smells rank…

    • jedi77 says:

      No, that is not the fact.
      Did it suck? Only if the first two did, it’s basically the same film again and again. There does seem to be a general consensus among my friends that the second film did indeed suck, but we liked the new one. A couple of us actually thought it was funnier than Guardians.

  4. MrCplCraig says:

    The problem seems to be what is competing against. You have Guardians of the Galaxy and TMNT released in the two prior weeks. These are two proven to work franchises (Marvel and TMNT), while at the same time they are both very new in there own ways. Expendables 3 is on it’s third film and worked well the first two times based on the strength of 90s action movie and celebrities. Now I see them every year or two. The film is predictable (fans know what there getting when they go in to see it) and the kitch theme isn’t going to compete against these major players. People are seeing Gardians twice in theaters and bootlegging Expendables 3. The audience is more demanding when it comes to theatre sells.

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