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'The Expendables 3' leaks nearly a month before theatrical release

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The Expendables 3 has leaked nearly an entire month before it's due to hit theaters nationwide. A DVD-quality copy of the film began circulating on piracy sites sometime Wednesday and as of Thursday evening had been downloaded over 100,000 times. Torrent Freak observed over 66,000 people attached to a single torrent, so the leak could quickly turn into major crisis for distributor Lionsgate.

The third Expendables installment, co-written by Sylvester Stallone, follows the series tradition of cramming a seemingly endless roster of action stars into a single movie. They're always over the top and filled with blazing gunfire and explosions at every turn: put succinctly, these films are tailor-made for the theater. Both previous installments have topped the box office during opening weekend, but a leak this early could derail or at least severely impact those crucial numbers. It's still fairly rare to see movies pop up online before their theatrical release. The last big example was 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine; in that case, a rough cut workprint of the film was leaked weeks before the finished version reached theaters.

As Variety notes, young men are the primary Expendables demographic. As it turns out, young men also have a habit of torrenting stuff. So that makes for a worrying combination if you're Lionsgate. If there's the slightest bit of evidence that this leak robbed Hollywood of millions come August 15th, you can bet lawmakers will be hearing about it. One word of warning for those considering an illegal download: Expendables production company Nu Image has tried more than once to sue torrent pirates, though those efforts aren't always terribly successful.