'Wanted' Director Defends Online Piracy in Russia

timur bekmambetov headshot - P 2011
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timur bekmambetov headshot - P 2011

Timur Bekmambetov argued that one-third of Russians have no access to theaters and can't watch movies any other way.

Producer and director Timur Bekmambetov has defended online piracy in Russia, saying that fighting it in a country where one-third of the population doesn’t have access to cinemas is “immoral.”

"I don't think that pirates steal too much money from the film industry," Bekmambetov was quoted by the Russian news agency Rosbalt as telling reporters during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. "Those who watch pirated movies [online], normally don't go the cinema anyway, that's just another mode of watching films."

According to Bekmambetov, while one-third of Russians don't have access to movie theaters, fighting piracy is "improper."

"It's bad, harmful and just immoral," he said. "Fifty million people watch a commercial for a movie on television, but there is no movie theater near where they live to go and watch it. That's why I think that the issue is being approached in the wrong way."

The insufficient number of movie theaters in Russia has long been cited as a major obstacle for development of the national film industry. Ideas of state support for building movie theaters in smaller cities and towns where they wouldn't be commercially viable have been recently discussed but not yet implemented.

Meanwhile, another Russian director, Andrey Zvyagintsev, recently encouraged viewers to download a pirated version of his Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning movie Leviathan, as he believed that some scenes in the theatrically released version, where profanity was edited out, lost their original color.

Bekmambetov is a well-known Russian director in Hollywood. He directed 2008's Wanted, featuring Angelina Jolie, as well as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and the forthcoming Ben-Hur.