Plans are underway across Russian cinemas to show high-quality pirated copies of the much anticipated “Avatar: The Way of Water.” It should go without saying that, despite the ongoing sanctions against the country over its invasion of Ukraine, such a move would be blatantly illegal and violate all kinds of international copyright laws.
Izvestia is reporting that the Russian Association of Theater Owners (ABK) is intent on legalizing the distribution of the “Avatar” sequel, in direct opposition to the wishes of its copyright holder, 20th Century Studios. Several cinemas across Odintsovo, Obninsk, Pushkino, Rostov and other cities near Moscow have said they will show the film as soon as there is a copy of acceptable quality available. Unlike “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” none of these cinemas seems to have actually posted tickets for sale on their websites.
Obtaining a copy is not cheap for theatre operators who can pay anywhere from RUB 50 thousand (USD $790) to RUB 1 million rubles (USD $15,820), depending on the quality. Some are cam-corded versions, others higher quality digital copies. Nobody knows where the higher quality DCPs are sourced from and there is a great deal of secrecy surrounding the copies as one might expect with any kind of contraband. The Russian government is reportedly working on compulsory licensing legislation so that the country’s cinema operators can show movies without the approval of any given copyright holder.