El Cartel de los Sapos, The Bootleg Version, UM Colombia

In September, the Colombian movie “El Cartel De Los Sapos,” based on a book written by former drug trafficker Andres Lopez while in prison, premiered in Bogota. However, only 8% of Colombians go to movie theaters (roughly 140,000 people), because they wait to watch a pirated version at home, even though they know it’s a crime. In fact, each year, the film industry loses 54 million dollars due to piracy.

The most popular method for distributing illegal films is to video tape it in the theater and then sell it on the streets. To teach “customers” a lesson, actors pretended to sell pirated versions on busy streets. Working with police, a fake “sting” operation was set up against pirates, but not before 1500 copies made their way into Colombian households. As viewers watched the film, they were surprised to see two main characters from the film actually watching the movie themselves in the theater. When the actors discover that someone is “recording” the movie, they get angry and start threatening the video pirate. In the end, they offer him another chance by inviting him to support Colombian cinematography in actual theaters. As the campaign went viral, excitement spread; the movie topped the box office and the number of spectators tripled.