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Lions Gate is investigating `Hostel' pre-release piracy

June 01, 2007|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

Pirated DVD copies of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.'s horror sequel "Hostel: Part II" have hit the streets well ahead of the movie's June 8 release.

Executives at the studio's Santa Monica offices said Thursday that the company was investigating the breach, disclosed over the Memorial Day weekend on MovieWeb.com.

Although camcorded bootlegs become common after movies hit theaters, pre-release piracy is rare because studios tightened security in recent years. The Motion Picture Assn. of America, which is assisting the investigation, estimates that piracy costs the industry $18 billion a year in lost revenue.

Lions Gate President Tom Ortenberg said the bootleg version of "Hostel: Part II" -- which also circulated on several Internet file-sharing sites -- was in rough, unfinished form.

"It's distressing and disappointing, but it will have no meaningful impact on the box office," Ortenberg said.

The follow-up to writer-director Eli Roth's low-budget, sadistic thriller is one of Lions Gate's key summer releases.

MovieWeb said a "flawless" bootleg copy was bought from a street vendor for $5 in the Santee Alley area in downtown Los Angeles.

The pirated copies, apparently made from an April 2 work print, bear the watermark of a studio employee, but Lions Gate said that person was not suspected of wrongdoing.

josh.friedman@latimes.com

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