In our digital age, feature length films can be shared with anyone with an easy upload from a thumb drive. In Hollywood it has become standard practice for early cuts of movies to be shared with hundreds of people working on different aspects of the filmmaking process: everyone from special effects artists and the film’s marketing teams to the boards of film festivals to simply the spoiled kids of producers who just begged and begged to get to see the new Spongebob movie before anyone else.
This ease of sharing has become a nuisance for major studios dating back to the OG file-sharing days of the early 2000s when blockbuster films began showing up online long before their premiere dates. Most film leaks are easily traceable back to the original culprit, but once that box has been opened, it cannot be shut. In the past this has had devastating results for a film’s box office, but in some cases it may have even helped spread early buzz to get people into theater seats.
Whatever the end result, a leak is never a circumstance a studio wants to have to deal with.
10. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith
Way back in 2005, on the day of its world premiere, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith was leaked online and downloaded around 16,000 times before police swiftly caught the culprit, an employee of MGM who leaked it after being given a copy by a friend who worked for the film’s production. In the end, 8 people were arrested and faced up to three years in prison, although their guilty pleas cut their sentencing down to a month behind bars.
The film still enjoyed massive success, because, hey, it’s Star Wars. Seeing it in the theater is a major part of the experience for the fans. Perhaps the low number of times it was leaked shows how little interest fans have of watching a new Star Wars film on their computer screens. Despite this, it was a huge embarrassment for Fox and Lucas Film, especially given how much effort they put into keeping spoilers off the internet.