David Fincher’s The Social Network, an adaptation from Ben Mezrich’s book Accidental Billionaires, enjoyed its theater premiere at the start of October. In the weeks that followed the film grossed more than $75 million in the United States alone, exceeding the $50 million it took to produce it.
While hundreds of thousands of people went to see the film in theater, a smaller but significant group stayed behind, keeping a close eye on their favorite torrent sites.
In October, the The Social Network was the most searched for movie title on KickassTorrents, and most likely many other torrent sites. However, for the best part of the month there wasn’t a single pirated copy to be found. Not even a camcorder version shot in a local theater, which is relatively unique for such as high profile movie.
This changed last week when the first cammed copy of The Social Network appeared online, which was immediately downloaded by thousands of BitTorrent users. Fast forward another week, and there now is a DVD-screener copy of the movie available, which is grabbing the attention of even more downloaders.
As all screeners, this review copy was leaked from a studio source. Despite all the watermarks and preventive measures by movie studios, it got out months before the scheduled DVD-release.
At the time of writing it is just over 24 hours after the first torrent appeared online, and thus far the DVD-screener has been downloaded well over 100,000 times already. A quick look at who’s downloading the film reveals that most of the current peers come from the United States (31%), followed by The United Kingdom (14%), Canada (9%), Australia (8%) and India (4%).
Image captured from the DVDscr release
This is just the beginning though. Usually, the greatest download boost for a pirated movie occurs with the release of a DVDrip copy, and that has yet to come for The Social Network. If this happens in the next month, the film about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and friends might have a shot at ending up in the list of top 10 most pirated films of this year.
A dubious honor, but not necessarily a financial disaster.
Whether the pirated copies will have any effect on theater visits and the revenues of the film remains to be seen. As with music, not every downloaded movie is a lost ‘sale’ and one can even argue that it might serve as a promotional tool in some cases through word-of-mouth advertising.