Police officials in London have arrested two men on suspicion of leaking "The Expendables 3" online before its U.S. and Canada wide release on Aug. 15.
A DVD-quality copy of the Lionsgate-distributed film was downloaded by millions of users after it popped up on file-sharing websites around July 25.
Officials said on Tuesday that the arrested men, ages 36 and 33, are believed to have stolen the film from a cloud-based system before uploading it to the Internet. They were taken to local police stations for questioning.
The police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, which is dedicated to protecting British industries, said it launched an investigation after a referral from Lionsgate.
The third installment in the action franchise opened to about $16.2 million in the U.S. and Canada, falling short of Lionsgate's projection of $20 million to $25 million.
Though it's difficult to determine how much the piracy affected the action film's opening, it's reasonable to assume that a portion of downloaders who would have seen the movie in theaters opted to stay home and save a few bucks instead.
The Intellectual Property Crime Unit estimated that in Britain, the leaked film was viewed hundreds of thousands of times, costing Lionsgate and Millennium Films "millions of pounds in the U.K. alone."
"Today’s operation shows you the significant impact intellectual property crime has on our creative industries, with millions of pounds being lost as a result of criminal actions," Detective Chief Inspector Danny Medlycott said in a statement.
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