Is Pre-Release Piracy a Threat to ‘Annie’s’ Box Office?

The cyber-attackers who broke down Sony Pictures’ digital doors stole five movies and uploaded them to piracy sites — a move that could cost the studio millions of dollars in lost box office and homevideo revenue.

From the time those films popped up on pirate networks on Nov. 27, they had been downloaded a total of 3.71 million times through Dec. 6, according to piracy-tracking firm Excipio. “Fury,” a World War II drama starring Brad Pitt that bowed in mid-October, led the pack with 3.076 million downloads, followed by “Annie” at 316,793. The other pirated movies were the yet-to-be released titles “Still Alice,” “Mr. Turner” and “To Write Love on Her Arms.”

The film that may be most at risk is the “Annie” reboot, starring Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz and Quvenzhane Wallis as the famous orphan. Slated to premiere Dec. 19, it’s the studio’s family entry in the holiday frame. However, analysts said, kid-oriented fare is far less interesting to the typical Internet pirate than are sci-fi or action movies. “My guess is Internet pirates are mostly twentysomething males,” says Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “That’s obviously not who ‘Annie’ is aimed at.”

At the Dec. 7 New York premiere of “Annie” at the Ziegfeld, director Will Gluck told Variety that hearing his movie was among those leaked on the Internet made last week more difficult. “There is no playbook on how to feel about that, so it’s kind of tough to navigate,” he said. “If, ultimately, more people get to see the movie because of that awful thing, then that’s the only silver lining I can hang onto.”

Popular on Variety

There’s evidence that piracy cuts into revenue, particularly for titles that leak before they hit theaters. In a recent analysis, researchers at Carnegie Mellon U. and the U. of Maryland estimated that pre-release movie piracy causes a 19.1% decrease in revenue compared with piracy that occurs post-release.

Addie Morfoot contributed to this report.

Read Variety’s full coverage of the Sony hack here.

More Digital

  • VUDU logo

    NBCUniversal in Talks to Buy Walmart's Vudu

    Comcast’s NBCUniversal is looking to add some Vudu into its streaming-video mix. The media conglomerate is in talks to buy Vudu, the Walmart-owned entertainment rental, download and free-streaming service, sources confirm to Variety. It’s unclear what the terms of the pact would be or the timing. News of NBCU’s interest in Vudu was first reported [...]

  • Tubi

    Fox in Talks to Acquire Free-Streaming Service Tubi for Over $500 Million (Report)

    Fox Corp. is in discussions about acquiring Tubi, the ad-supported free streaming service, in a deal worth more than $500 million, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing anonymous sources. With Tubi, Rupert Murdoch’s TV broadcasting and cable company would be adding a dedicated streaming component — offering over 20,000 older TV shows and [...]

  • Zombies 2 Disney Channel

    How Disney Channel's 'Zombies 2' Production Team Made Monsters Kid-Friendly

    Traditionally spooky creatures like zombies and werewolves get the Disney treatment in “Zombies 2,” the follow-up to the 2018 hit TV-movie musical of the same name. While the undead have now assimilated into the community of Seabrook, they’re confronted by a new set of outsiders: werewolves. Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly return as Zed and [...]

  • Baby Yoda - The Child Animatronic

    Hasbro's Adorable Baby Yoda Animatronic Toy Is Already Sold Out on Disney's Online Store

    The Force remains strong for toys based on Baby Yoda, the breakout star of Disney Plus original series “The Mandalorian.” Less than a day after becoming available for pre-order, Hasbro’s new $59.99 Baby Yoda animatronic toy is no longer available on Disney’s official online store: As of Friday morning, Shop Disney listed it as “sold [...]

  • BTS Leads Spotify’s New Music Friday

    BTS Leads Spotify’s New Music Friday Playlist Rebrand

    Spotify has launched a global rebrand of its popular New Music Friday playlist, which this week features BTS, The Weeknd, Noah Cyrus, Trippie Redd, Kenny Chesney, Rei Ami and others. The revamped playlist, which has 43 versions worldwide, has more than 3.5 million followers in the US and eight million globally. New elements include a [...]

  • The Witcher - Netflix

    'The Witcher' Season 2 Production Starts in U.K., Adds Seven to Cast Including 'Game of Thrones' Star Kristofer Hivju

    Production on fantasy epic “The Witcher” Season 2 has commenced in the U.K., with a planned launch in 2021, Netflix announced. The show also announced seven new cast members joining “The Witcher” for S2, including Kristofer Hivju, the Norwegian actor who played the red-bearded wilding leader Tormund Giantsbane on “Game of Thrones.” Netflix last month [...]

  • Disney Plus - Vizio

    Disney Plus Is Now on Vizio Smart TVs in Native App

    Disney Plus is available on Vizio’s SmartCast TV platform as a built-in app, making the Mouse House’s subscription-streaming service accessible directly to users of the manufacturer’s 13 million SmartCast-enabled televisions. Previously, Vizio users have been able to stream Disney Plus on SmartCast TVs through Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast. But with the Disney Plus update, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content