It's official, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is online. Fans unwilling to buy a ticket to the most popular movie in the history of North American cinema can now download a version for free. They just have to be willing to break the law.
Cam copies of the movie, recorded by fans in the theater on handheld cameras, have been widely available since the film's release on December 18. But those are often marred by shaky video, audio problems, incomplete footage and other glitches that have made cams a scourge of popular piracy sites.
In recent days, though, a number of higher quality downloads have been posted and propelled to the front page of Kickass Torrents and other piracy websites visited by millions of users every day.
The new movies are classified as Telesync quality, a step just above the normal cam copies that are often, in the words of one torrent site commenter, “absolute trash” and “OUT OF SYNC!!!!!!!!” Telesync bootlegs are recorded in theaters, as well, but often with a more professional quality camera.
Rather than hiding a camera in the seats, the pirate sets up a camera on a tripod in the theater projection booth and attaches microphones to the speakers.
One version of the movie, uploaded this week by the INFRNO scene group, has been downloaded at least 59,000 times, according to numbers available on Kickass Torrents, and is being distributed by at least 7,352 users.
“Opening scrawl and subtitles are in Spanish,” one reviewer wrote. “A head in the bottom left corner of the screen won't go away. Best you'll find so far, but not great.”
The next step above Telesync is DVD Screener quality. “Star Wars” is one of the few movies for which a screener has yet to leak. “The Hateful Eight,” “Creed,” “The Big Short,” “The Martian,” “Joy” and more than a dozen other titles still playing in the cinema have made their way online in recent weeks.