AVATAR and the Trouble with Pirates

Avatar-pirate Know someone who's pirated AVATAR? You're not alone. In fact, AVATAR is the most pirated movie in history. Director James Cameron had predicted that the film’s 3D technology would deter online theft, but almost one million pirate copies were downloaded within seven days of its release.

But there are some drawbacks (besides the obvious legal and ethical issues). Illegal copies tend to be low-quality and hard to see, not to mention that you've usually got to watch them on your computer, not your home entertainment center. Pirating may get you in hot water with your school or get you arrested. Also, a big AVATAR draw is its 3-D immersiveness, which doesn't translate well to handheld footage from some guy's minicam.

The good news? As with music, it’s possible these pirate downloads may actually be helping at the box office, and it looks like even pirates will wait for quality, i.e. the home DVD.

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AVATAR pirates – are they crazy for missing out on the 3D or are they just fans who can't get enough?


Taronyu Ta'em (Burrows)

I think many of them are peoples who already seen it, but it's too bad for those that haven't. They won't get the same experience as if you are watching it in the theaters.

Nawma Atan

My friend watched a pirated version and thought it was so good, she went to watch it in IMAX 3D 5 more times and counting! And I've only seen it twice lol. I guess that helped the box office in a way. =P


I'm just going to say to the people that watched a pirated 'Avatar', "Too bad". Your missing out big time on one of the great features of 'Avatar' and that's it's 3-D experience.

I want to go to Pandora D:

Jose Tomas

They just fans who can't get enough.


Well, yeah, they're missing out and if they only ever see it as cam-rip, they haven't really seen it.

But, while 3D is a nice bonus to seeing it in on a big theater screen, it's not an absolute necessity.
- Many people do not have the option to see it in 3D just because the technology isn't so wide-spread around the world
- For many people with astigmatism, watching it in 3D can be rather hard/painful on the eyes
- Many people don't go to the movies because of various factors, i.e. disruptive audiences, sound is too loud, prime time sitting unavailability, etc.

But, if you think it gets pirated a lot now, just wait till the DVD comes out!


I actually prevented some people for downloading the movie... They went to see it in the cinema's and thanked me : )

Caleb Watson

I would love to have a copy of the movie, but I am just going to wait to buy it on DVD / Blu-Ray.

I have seen it twice in the movies, once in 2D and once in 3D. I am planning on seeing it for a third time in a day or two.

I do know someone that downloaded the movie rather then seeing it in the movies, but I think I am convincing him to delete it and go to the cinema.

Love the movie!


Ayden Gotzmer

I do think a lot of the pirated copies are people who are looking for more AVATAR. I know I went home after seeing the movie, tried to find a pirated copy without viruses but then gave up. I've seen it three times now.

One thing is--AVATAR translates just as well in 2D as it does in 3D, which is a great thing! Sure people 'miss out' when they see it in 2D, but really the film translates just as well in both mediums.

Jake Sully

One of my friends downloaded it but when we saw the quality we just had to go to the theatre ágain.


I am most certainly going to buy the blu-ray disc when it is released, hopefully it has an extensive behind the scenes reel. I love the movie and I'll show my support by paying for it. We should make sure they have plenty of funding to support future epic productions. Out of neccesity I watched a pirated version since I live in a rural area and the local theatre only shows movies at one time on fridays. I only saw it because my Mom wanted to see it and after seeing it I was like....WOW!!! I liked it so much that I just had to see it in 3D, after x-mas break, back in the city for college, I went to see it asap (Dolby 3D) and then it was a ...WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!! experience, and I'm going on a 2hr drive this weekend with my friends to see it in IMAX 3D. I'm now looking at potential 3D technologies for my home theater, (silver screen, two polarized DLP projectors, nvidia 200 series graphics card, and of course polarized glasses=YEAH BABY! :)


I think it's a mix of both first time viewers and fans. For first time viewers they want to see if it's worth the money or not before dishing out the $6-$10 to see it in theatres, which is understandable. Like many before my post were stating about people they know who pirated the movie then had to see it in theatres. Now as for the fans it might be a little more blurred as to WHO sees it as a pirated copy after seeing it in theatres. I, being a fan, have not pirated the movie yet (and won't since I want my money to make Avatar 2 even more AMAZING!!) and even if I did I couldn't stand watching it in the crappy resolutions since it would completely kill the experience for me. Now one type of fan who pirates the movie might be one who loves the movie a lot and would like to keep seeing it in theatres but doesn't have the money to go everytime they want, so the pirated version may suffice for them. The other type of fan is the crazily obsessed one who has to see it every 2 hours and 40 minutes (if you get what I mean). Though I believe it is less fans of Avatar who pirate the movie since the quality is so low its not worth the 2 hr and 40 min (though the story and its little details are amazing) and the experience is not as great when viewed on a big screen with great surround sound, but more the people who haven't seen it yet and want to make sure the movie is worth every penny they payed to see it in theatres.

@HouseOfHam: I do agree that 3D is not a necessity to enjoy the movie in all its glory, but it does provide a deminsion and depth with which, combined by James Cameron's unsurpassed filming and James Horner's blissful score, really drives the whole experience home when all you can do is think that your really there with your eyes as the camera's lense.


Oh and @dragonsmoke6: I believe that a TV or monitor supporting 120hz refresh rate combined with a unit that supports a checker board video format you should be able to view 3D movies, though I don't know if that is RealD 3D or some other 3D format. But I believe Mitsubishi makes some 60" and above DLP rear projection TV's that support 3D that you might wana look at, considering they are cheaper than buying two high quality projectors.

Account Deleted

I don't have a pirated copy. I'm trying to wait patiently 'til it comes out in mid-April, I think.

Call me Joe

those who haven't seen Avatar yet are missing the great event in film history of their life time!!!
we are lucky that Avatar has released in our time.

Call me Joe

Avatar in poor cam recorded pirated version!!! are you kiddin me? why the hell then I'm paying for 2D, RealD 3D & IMAX 3D tickets??? there's no comparison between watching the movie in theater in 3D or even in 2D & the pirated... I am waiting for the DVD to release though have to go to theater for another round to celebrate its become the highest grossing of all time.


I Loved Avatar so much, that I even went onto my bro's computer and watched it again. True, the quality of the screen shots and graphics do not compare, but Its the words and music that can just make my day forever!!! I am waiting, because I have no choice but to wait for the DVD to come out.
I'm probably going to reserve it in Blu-Ray or HD.

Account Deleted

First of all, how does one find out it's the most pirated movie? I'm a bit confused there.

Second, all I have to say to the people who have pirated it... Sucks to be you. You really have no idea what you're missing by watching it low quailty, and not in 3D.

Okay, okay, I admit to pirating a couple movies, but not being old enough to see rated R movie in theaters yet, pirating a movie is my only option (though in a few months I will be old enough, and aim to never pirate a movie again). The only ones I have watched online are Zombieland and District 9.
But because I can purchase my own Avatar ticket and I love the movie so much, I find it extremely wrong and shameful to pirate it. The thought of people pirating it, until reading this article, hasn't even crossed my mind, actually.

And one can only imagine how much money it would of made if nobody pirated it and just purchased a ticket instead. I wonder how much sooner it would've reached to billion-dollar mark AND passed Titanic's record.
Can we get the numbers for that?


I have seen the movie 6 times at the cinema. 5 times as normal 2D and one time 3D. The 3d was very cool. The only reason i would download the movie, would be so i can watch it when i want. I heard there will be a DVDrip shortly. Dont know if its true.


My sister watched a pirated version of this movie and then she said it was so good that I went out to the theaters and got the 3-D tickets! Loved it but only saw it 3 times...:( CANT WAIT FOR THE DVD!

Account Deleted

In defense of some pirate movie viewers.....
I noted comments from a few that, after seeing the pirated movie, they were compelled to see the real AVATAR movie....this will be the point I will try to make...
If you treat a pirated movie as a way to keep you from wasting money on some hyped up piece of CRAP,...then, I say DO IT.
I DO NOT TRUST CRITICS !! Pros have their own agendas and, most definitely, their own tastes.
At my friends home, I was one fuzzy/shakey minute into AVATAR, and I KNEW it was a movie I HAD TO SEE on a full screen.
My daughter and I paid matinee prices of $10 each and then the popcorn and 2 cokes cost us $30 extra.
I was aggravated but not surprised....if AVATAR makes 2 billion....the concession stands will make 3 billion, at that rate.

If I'm going to drop $50 on a movie (two people).....you can BET I already know I'm going to like the movie.
I will gladly give up the conessions...that $30 will buy me another two tickets for AVATAR....not to mention the two bottled cokes and M & Ms I plan to sneak in.....


My case is like this:
I watched AVATAR at my friends home, on flat TV, but... only few minutes of watching was enough to decide that we should watch it in 3D, and this is a big difference, despite we were sitting in front lines and it was too loud, we enjoyed it for real.
I think that in most cases pirates give people kind of pre-screen evaluation, and if the movie worth it, most will pay for another type of experience in big cinema.


....... piracy ¡ sucks ! ...... looking forward to the DIRECTORS´CUT realease DVD ...........


You have to watch this movie in the theater. The story makes it my favorite movie, but the special effects are amazing!!

James Williams

I saw it online very quickly after it came out of the cinemas too. Shame because lots of people will see a low quality version of the film

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