Illegal copies of “The Homesman” have been circulating across the Internet since September, but the studios behind the Western think that piracy won’t ruin the film’s chances at the box office.
“I seriously doubt there was an effect on ‘The Homesman,'” wrote Howard Cohen, president of Roadside Attractions, in an email. “The audience is significantly on the older side.”
The film, which Roadside Attractions is backing along with Saban Films, has been pirated roughly 1.2 million times since a Blu-Ray quality copy showed up online in September, according to piracy tracking firm Excipio. It premiered in the United States in limited release last weekend, earning $48,000 from four theaters.
“We were very concerned about it,” said Bill Bromiley, president of Saban Films. “You just try to do as best you can to get copies down. Does it effect you? Absolutely. But how much, you just don’t know.”
The film will continue expanding in the coming weeks, Bromiley said. In an email message, Cohen said the leaks originated overseas and that the film’s foreign distributor, EuropaCorp, was policing the situation.
Fabrice Denizot, chief marketing officer for EuropaCorp, disputed Excipio’s findings and said that the company had put up fake copies of “The Homesman” in order the confuse wouldbe pirates. Those copies are skewing the numbers, he argued.
“We’re working on a daily basis to chase down and close and take down all of the sites and links we find for each of our movies,” said Denizot.
In the past, independent films and adult dramas like “The Homesman” have seen their ticket sales diminish as a result of illegal downloads. Voltage Pictures filed a series of lawsuits against thousands of BitTorrent users alleging that they downloaded pirated versions of “The Hurt Locker” that cost the Iraq War drama millions of dollars at the box office.
Likewise, a high-quality copy of “The Expendables 3” leaked online three weeks before the film premiered last summer. It was downloaded by an estimated 2.2 million people. The widespread piracy was cited as one reason the film floundered in its opening weekend and failed to make much of an impression at the domestic box office.
That film was skewed at younger males, while “The Homesman,” which centers on a frontier woman (Hilary Swank) who must accompany three insane women to a safe haven in Iowa, aims to attract a different crowd.
“A lot of people that would go to see [‘The Homesman’] don’t watch pirated movies,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst of BoxOffice.com. “Over 35 would be selling it short. This is the over-50 crowd, and I don’t see them being big on piracy.”