New PSA Admonishes Film Pirates

Ben Affleck and Sean Astin are coming soon to a theater near you–but not in the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

The two thesps, along with director George Lucas and a slew of behind-the-scenes film artisans, will appear in a 72-second public service announcement aimed at convincing potential pirates that copying and swapping movies will put filmmakers out of work and could ultimately lead to fewer movies being produced.

“If people keep taking (movies off the Internet) for free, it will cease to exist. It’s as simple as that,” Lucas warns.

U.S. film studios and theater owners announced the ad campaign Wednesday at the ShowWest convention in Las Vegas. Jim Gianopulos, chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, unveiled the anti-piracy trailer and said his studio is working with the Motion Picture Association of America to make it available to theaters nationwide.

“A big part of what we believe is important to deal with this challenge–apart from the technological means, which we are pursuing daily–is education,” Gianopulos said. “We need to teach this generation that stealing is stealing, in whatever form. People must be taught that the so-called victimless crime of downloading movies has the power to cost real people real jobs–not just executives like me or others in this room, but hundreds of thousands of people who are involved in this process (of making and distributing movies).”

The MPAA, which represents Hollywood’s major studios, estimates that 400,000 to 600,000 digital movies are downloaded every day from the Internet. Reuters reports the trade group put aside $150,000 earlier this month to reward informers whose tips lead to successful police raids on illegal DVD factories in Asia.

According to the MPAA, the old-fashioned method of piracy–moviegoers using handheld video cameras to shoot a video version of a film or making of bootleg copies of promotional DVDs, costs the industry $3 billion a year.

The anti-piracy trailer, produced by 20th Century Fox, will play in domestic theaters including the Regal Entertainment Group, Loews Cineplex Entertainment, CineMark USA, Inc., Century Cinemas, Cinemas Guzzo, Consolidated Theatres and Rave Review Cinemas.