No box office smash, "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks," captured the No. 4 spot in last week's most pirated movies roster, compiled by TorrentFreak, a news site covering all things torrent-related. As of June 16, 2013, the $2 million movie about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, directed by documentarian Alex Gibney for Universal Studios, has made a paltry $158,600 in U.S. ticket sales, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
But it's a hit on TorrentFreak, beating big-budget pictures such as "Jack the Giant Slayer," "Fast and Furious 6" and the animated feature "Epic." ("The Hangover Part 3" held the top spot for the second straight week.) And the irony of its failure as a commercial venture, compared with its success as a "stolen" film is somehow fitting since it is indeed about so-called stolen or leaked documents, depending on your point of view.
The Wikileaks movie's lack of popularity may be due in part to the lambasting it received from Wikileaks.org itself on the eve of the movie's release in late May. The site released an annotated transcript including detailed notes pointing out what Wikileaks called misinformation throughout the movie's script.
"The title ('We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks') is false. It directly implies that WikiLeaks steals secrets. In fact, the statement is made by former CIA/NSA (National Security Agency) director Michael Hayden in relation to the activities of U.S. government spies, not in relation to WikiLeaks," the first note reads. "This an irresponsible libel."
Further, Wikileaks casts Internet freedom activist Assange as a possible co-conspirator with Bradley Manning, who is currently being court-martialed for espionage and aiding the enemy after reportedly leaking government documents to Wikileaks.org. The organization said the portrayal was "factually incorrect," and they had no participation in the making of the film. (Assange declined to be interviewed by Gibney.)
Assange sought political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to prevent being extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted on charges of rape and sexual assault. This Wednesday (June 19) will mark a year since Assange took up residency in a tiny office at the embassy. British authorities have said he will be arrested if he steps foot off the property, according to The Guardian.
Meanwhile, Assange has been working on a film with Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras, which will be out later this year. Poitras was instrumental in breaking the recent NSA spying story and has herself been the target of government investigations.
Her upcoming film is the third in a trilogy, focusing on post-9/11 America, and will include Wikileaks.org-approved material. It is as yet untitled.