WB bans previews in Canada

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TORONTO -- In a pre-emptive strike against movie piracy originating from Canada, Warner Bros. Pictures said Monday that the studio will cancel preview screenings of its movies north of the border.

Frustrated with unauthorized camcording of its new releases in Canadian cinemas, Warner Bros. Pictures Canada said it will immediately halt all "promotional and word-of-mouth screenings" of upcoming releases.

"We regret having to cancel our screenings in Canada, but our studio must take steps to protect not only our branded assets but our commitment to our filmmakers and to our distributors," Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman said.

The studio said that the Canadian ban will begin with the upcoming release of "Ocean's Thirteen" and continue with the July 13 release of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."

Warners said it is reacting to the failure of the Canadian government to introduce legislation here to make camcording of films for trafficking around the world illegal and a punishable offense.

"Canada is the No. 1 priority in terms of anti-camcording legislation," said Darcy Antonellis, senior vp worldwide anti-piracy operations at Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Warners is the first studio to take action against Canada to stem movie piracy. Last year, 20th Century Fox threatened to delay releases of its movies in Canada to eliminate the threat of unauthorized camcording.

"Within the first week of a film's release, you can almost be certain that somewhere out there a Canadian copy will show up," Antonellis said.

The action from Warners came the same day as representatives for the major studios told a parliamentary committee probing domestic counterfeiting and piracy that unauthorized camcording of Hollywood movies in Canadian theaters was rampant.
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