Avatar 2 was released in Russia thanks to pirate sites

Avatar 2 is shown in several cinemas in Russia, despite the embargo of American studios. To circumvent the sanctions, Russian cinemas have turned to pirate sites…

Last May, several Hollywood cinema giants decided to withdraw from the Russian market in protest against the invasion of Ukraine. Companies like Warner, Disney or Sony, have canceled the release of all their films in Russia until further notice. Highly anticipated films, such as The Batman or Fantastic Beasts 3 – Dumbledore’s Secrets, have not been released in Russian cinemas.

Deprived of American blockbusters, Russian cinemas quickly recorded a drop in attendance. Exhibitors are heavily dependent on films from the United States, which account for 70% of major releases in Russia. From the first weeks of sanctions, the Association of Cinema Operators in Russia sounded the alarm. According to the body, the film industry was in danger of collapsing.

Read also : Why Avatar 2 is crashing some movie theaters

Hacking as a fallback

To survive, some Russian cinemas have turned to piracy. Shortly after the abandonment of the Hollywood studios, theaters began to broadcast pirated copies recovered from illegal download sites. According to our colleagues from Torrent Freak, cinemas have notably got their hands on films in Digital Cinema Packages (DCP) format. This is the standard format intended for theatrical projection.

The practice accelerated with the release ofAvatar 2 : The Way of the Water, the event film by James Cameron, in the world in December. Here again, Russia found itself in the feature film. In response, several theater owners announced their intention to use pirated versions of Avatar. They are committed to programming the film as soon as a quality pirated copy is available on the web.

As promised, cinemas started showing Avatar 2 a few days ago. Apparently they managed to unearth high quality DCP copies with Russian dubbing from neighboring allied countries, such as Kazakhstan. Despite some tensions since the war in Ukraine, the Republic of Kazakhstan has remained one of the Kremlin’s closest allies.

Illegal screenings

According to Torrent Freak, cinemas have taken files intended for Kazakh theaters in the form of torrents. According to the testimonies obtained by the media, illegal screenings were held in a plethora of major cities.

Fearing legal reprisals, some Russian cinemas refuse to turn to pirated files to circumvent the embargo. Others agreed to delay the projection of Avatar 2 until January 13, 2023. By delaying the arrival of the event film, exhibitors seek to favor Russian productions during the New Year. As a general rule, cinemas in Russia record a peak in attendance around January 1.

Faced with the proliferation of illegal screenings, the Russian Association of Cinema Owners initially showed firmness. A few months ago, the organization condemned the practice and urged operators to oppose piracy. More recently, Alexei Voronkov, president of the association, softened his speech:

I can’t even condemn theaters that engage in pirate screenings now. To date, the wave of unauthorized screening of film copies is only growing exponentially and will only grow. […]. This is mainly due, not to the desire to make money, but to the desire to survive, and this applies mainly to small cinemas”.

Source :

Torrent Freak

Avatar 2 was released in Russia thanks to pirate sites