Sylvester Stallone, who wrote and starred in action pic “Expendables 3,” gave a shout-out to law-enforcement officials who collared a U.K. man alleged to be behind the pre-theatrical leak of the movie onto piracy sites last summer.
A 26-year-old man from Leeds, in West Yorkshire, U.K., was arrested Thursday morning after a joint investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the City of London Police and the MPAA. The identity of the alleged pirate was not revealed.
Stallone, in a statement, said: “I’d like to thank the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit at the City of London Police for working with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations to apprehend the suspect in this case. It is important to protect the rights of creatives around the world from theft.”
A high-quality copy of “Expendables 3” hit torrent piracy sites last July — more than three weeks prior to its Aug. 15 U.S. theatrical debut — was downloaded more than 10 million times. The movie has grossed $39.3 million at the U.S. box office and $206 million globally to date; that’s versus the $274 million worldwide box for the first “Expendables” and $305 million for “Expendables 2,” according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
On Friday, the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit said it arrested the man at his workplace in Leeds before taking him to a local police station for questioning. Cops said the unnamed individual is believed to be involved in obtaining high-quality films and uploading them on to the Internet, implying he’s culpable for more than just “Expendables 3.” The piracy is estimated to have cost Lionsgate, the film’s distributor, several millions of dollars.
“[This] action should serve as a warning to online pirates,” said Mick Dodge, detective inspector for the City of London Police. “The U.K. is not a safe haven for criminals seeking to attack international businesses from our shores. Working with our law enforcement partners worldwide, PIPCU is coming down hard on criminals who are exploiting intellectual property for their own financial gain.”
The arrest of the fellow in Leeds comes after London Police special investigators in November arrested two men on suspicion of stealing a copy of “Expendables 3” and uploading it to piracy services.
Lionsgate declined to comment on the latest developments in the case.
“Too often, these types of crimes are regarded as immaterial because they are seemingly without victims; however, when a business suffers a loss, it is felt at all levels, from the C-suite to the mailroom,” Matthew Etre, U.S. Embassy London’s attaché for Homeland Security Investigations, said in a statement. “This arrest is yet another success story highlighting what strong, collaborative relationships between law enforcement agencies can accomplish.”
Avi Lerner, producer of “Expendables 3” and chairman of Millennium Films, has claimed that worldwide piracy of the movie amounts to $250 million in lost potential revenue. That, however, is quite impossible to substantiate.