Some Russian cinemas are showing pirated movies downloaded from the Internet

Today marks 70 days since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. The war in the Eastern European country is a constant in the media and politics, which follow every step in the evolution of the conflict. The West’s reaction in the early days of the war was the imposition of sanctions against Russia. This included the exit of a multitude of companies from the country, from technology companies like Apple to fast food franchises like McDonalds.

Major Hollywood studios such as Disney, Warner Bros. Universal Pictures, Paramount and Sony Pictures also announced they would stop bringing their films to Russian theaters. The blockades came just the week that The Batman would debut in theaters worldwide, and it has been followed by films such as Sonic 2: The Movie or, imminently, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

The Russian Association of Cinema Owners showed their discontent and concern about the situation. They claimed that 80% of Russian cinemas were at risk of closure due to the absence of major productions, as domestic productions were not meeting demand.

Many theaters are barely holding their own with films produced in Russia, Bollywood and films from Korea and China. Others, on the other hand, have opted for less orthodox and illegal methods: some Russian movie theaters have resorted to pirate movie download websites to screen the latest releases.

Films such as the aforementioned The Batman or Don’t Look Up, only available on Netflix (which has also ceased its service in the country), are being screened illegally in an attempt to circumvent sanctions. The films are downloaded from torrent sharing sites, many of them are subtitled in Russian and enjoy good picture quality, so many viewers are unaware that they are watching an illegal copy.

It is contradictory that these theaters are weathering the storm thanks, precisely, to one of the great evils of the exhibition industry.


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