Special investigators for the London Police arrested two men on suspicion of stealing a copy of Lionsgate’s “The Expendables 3” and uploading it to piracy services more than three weeks prior to the film’s theatrical release.
Detectives from the City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit on Tuesday arrested a 36-year-old man at his home in Upton, Wirral, and a 33-year-old man at his home in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. Officials did not release the names of the individuals, who were taken to local police stations for questioning.
The pair are believed to have stolen the film from a “cloud-based system” before uploading it to the Internet, police said. The London Police unit didn’t identify how detectives tracked down the two men, or from which service they are believed to have purloined the film.
A high-quality copy of “Expendables 3” hit torrent piracy sites in late July, ahead of its Aug. 15 U.S. debut, and has since been downloaded more than 10 million times. The movie, starring Sylvester Stallone and a cast of aging action stars, took in $16.2 million at the box office in its opening weekend — well below that of the first two films in the series — with the pre-release piracy likely a factor.
The London Police’s intellectual-property crime unit launched the investigation leading to the arrests following a referral in the case by Lionsgate.
Avi Lerner, producer of “Expendables 3” and chairman of Millennium Films, has claimed that worldwide piracy of the movie is responsible for $250 million in lost potential revenue. Millennium Films has threatened legal action against individuals who have downloaded the film via torrent sites.