Russian cinemas show films downloaded from pirate sites

Russian cinemas have been deprived of Hollywood films for several weeks. In reaction to the war in Ukraine, American giants like Disney, Sony or Warner Bros canceled the theatrical release of several films. To survive the sanctions, cinema operators have decided to distribute illegally downloaded copies on pirate sites.

netflix doomed movie theaters

Following the invasion of Ukraine, Western countries decreed a series of penalties against Russia. At the request of governments, many companies have withdrawn from the Russian market. This is particularly the case of Apple. The American group has stopped sales of iPhone, iPad, AirPods and all of its products. Same story on the side of Google, Samsung, Intel or AMD.

In this context, the cinema giants have decided to remove their films from cinemas in Russia. Disney, Universal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros and Paramount have stopped airing all of their blockbusters in the country. “Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are suspending the theatrical release of films in Russia, including the upcoming Red alert by Pixar” Disney said in a statement released shortly after the first strikes in Ukraine.

Read also: Russia is ready to legalize software piracy from tech giants

Hollywood deserts Russia in reaction to the war in Ukraine

For its part, Warner Bros has canceled the release of The Batman, the dark feature that stars Robert Pattinson as the masked vigilante, and Fantastic Beasts 3 – Dumbledore’s Secrets, set in Russia. Sony Pictures has also deprived Russian cinemas of Morbius, its latest production dedicated to a character from the Marvel catalog.

The Russian cinema industry is strongly affected by this measure. According to the Russian Association of Venue Patrons, 80% of cinemas in Russia are at risk of closing. The body, which represents 700 cinemas located on Russian soil, believes that the country’s film industry will simply collapse.

“We are concerned about the high likelihood of liquidation of the entire film industry in the country in the context of the introduction of large-scale and unprecedented sanctions. Unfortunately, the quantity and quality of Russian films offered to the public does not meet the high demand for content from cinemas”, explains the Russian Association of Cinema Owners. To survive, exhibitors turn massively to national productions, Asian films, especially Korean ones, or Bollywood films.

Russian cinemas pirate films to survive sanctions

To survive the restrictions decreed by the big names in American entertainment, Russian cinemas have turned to pirate sites. According to information from our colleagues at Torrent Freak, Russian cinemas have started stream great Hollywood movies despite blocking as early as the middle of April 2022. Illegal screenings took place in several major cities.

Among the productions distributed illegally, we find The Batman or even Don’t Look Up, a film available in the Netflix catalog. This feature film is however inaccessible to Internet users in Russia. To protest against the attack on Ukraine, Netflix has indeed taken the decision to suspend the accounts of Russian subscribers.

According to information gleaned by Torrent Freak, the films were illegally uploaded by the operators on torrent sharing sites. The productions screened benefit from dubbing in Russian and the quality of the image is there. Films like The Batman have already been released on VOD, DVD or Blu-Ray in several countries.

Most cinemas do not hide from showing films produced by Hollywood. On social networks, many channels boast of airing popular productions. The Association of Cinema Owners strongly condemns these actions. The organization believes that “illegal public distribution of pirated copies” contributes to extricating the Russian cinema industry from legality.

“We condemn the practice of illegal screening of films in Russian cinemas and call on the entire professional film community to prevent such practices”says the Association of Cinema Operators in Russia, assuring that the piracy rush was caused by “the lack of an effective government response to the current critical situation”.

Source : Torrent Freak

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