Nearly two million people have illegally watched the Brad Pitt film Fury just five days after the leak of leading Sony titles following a cyber attack.
A total of 1,810,755 people had viewed the World War Two film by lunchtime on Tuesday with 241,592 people seeing the unreleased remake of Annie starring Cameron Diaz and 88,528 watching the Mike Leigh film Mr Turner, the piracy monitoring company Excipio has told RadioTimes.com.
The widespread dissemination of the films – which began surfacing on the internet on Thursday 27th November – could be potentially disastrous with reduced box office and DVD-sales takings expected.
Fury has been released in cinemas but not yet on DVD while Annie is due on the big screen on 19th December. Mr Turner, which stars Timothy Spall as the 19th-century British painter JMW Turner, has already been released in the UK but not the US.
According to Michael Rosser, news editor of film trade publication Screen International, the potential cost to Sony could be huge.
He told RadioTimes.com: “It would be impossible to say [exactly] but it is hard to imagine it won’t run into the millions if people don’t watch the films or buy the DVDs.
“Inglourious Basterds – the last World War 2 movie starring Brad Pitt – made more than $320m at the worldwide box office and more than $100m in DVD/Blu-ray sales in the US alone.
“Mike Leigh’s previous period drama, Vera Drake in 2004, made in excess of $13m around the world.”
The FBI is helping Sony investigate the online leak which followed a hack perpetrated by a group calling themselves #GOP, or Guardians of Peace, suspected of originating from North Korea.
The attack comes as Sony prepares to release The Interview, a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un when they are granted an audience with him.
The North Korean regime has denounced the film, due for release on Christmas Day, as “an evil act of provocation against our highly dignified republic and an insult against our righteous people”.