Warner Bros. cancel Canadian Movie Screenings due to Increasing Piracy

Warner Bros. logo and Canadian flag Warner Bros. has taken a decision whereby this week it would no longer hold promotional screenings of movies in Canada, and all press screenings would take place in a private room. The U.S. – based film makers have taken this step in response to the burgeoning movie piracy in the country, which the studio feels is all due to lax laws.

If you thought that China and Russia were the greatest sources of pirated content, then think again. Warner Bros. claims that Canada is the real problem behind pirated content. According to the company 70 percent of its films have been pirated in Canada over the last 18 months. Those illegal and often poor quality copies are then sold worldwide.

In a statement, Warner Bros. maintained, “The newly enacted policy represents the studio’s response to the lack of legislation in Canada to curtail the growing wave of camcorder-shot (”camcorded”) films being trafficked around the world.”

Adding, “Despite incontrovertible evidence that film piracy has become a major economic and law enforcement issue, Canada has not adopted a federal law making camcording illegal or permitting the confiscation of equipment, and, as a result, has become the main source for most of the world’s film piracy.”

Warner Bros. noted that within the first week itself of a screening, a Canadian copy makes the rounds on the Internet before spreading to other countries.

Two of the summer blockbusters from Warner Bros. films Oceans Thirteen, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be affected by the rule change. In addition, all films under the Warner Independent Pictures title will also be included in the screening ban.

Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, President of Distribution for Warner Bros. International said, “Piracy is the leading issue the international film industry struggles with everyday and content recorded in Canada is the first place to take action, as Canadian recorded content is distributed and viewed everywhere.”

Furthermore, all educational advance screenings of Warner movies in Canada are affected, said Dianne Schwalm, Warner Canada’s senior vice-president of theatrical marketing.

Warner has also cancelled plans for an extensive series of screenings of the upcoming Nancy Drew film that had been developed in collaboration with CanWest’s Raise-a-Reader program and schools across the country.

“I have a lump in my throat,” said Schwalm, when asked her feelings about killing the Nancy Drew project. But she said the situation is desperate.

“When you have the largest percentage (in the world) of camcording here, and you can’t stop it, it’s off the rails,” added Schwalm.

In a statement yesterday, Heritage Minister Bev Oda said, “our government is aware of the problem of piracy and the role of camcording in contributing to that problem.”