A copy of The Avengers recorded with a camcorder leaked onto the Internet a week before the film's theatrical release which probably had Disney executives more than a bit uneasy regarding the movie's prospects. The "cam" flick was downloaded more than half a million times (likely a record for a cam-shot film) but box office revenue was ultimately unscathed as The Avengers set multiple opening weekend records.
The Avengers brought in over $200 million this past weekend, good enough to become the most successful opening weekend film in movie history. Harry Potter previously held the record at around $170 million in revenue during the first weekend.
TorrentFreak has done the math and unsurprisingly enough, the "massive" piracy had little to do with resulting ticket sales. The publication notes that only 20 percent of those that downloaded the cam version of The Avengers through BitTorrent were from the US, or roughly 100,000 people. If those same 100,000 people had purchased a movie ticket instead of downloading the movie, box office revenue would only be 0.5 percent higher.
This is assuming that none of those 100,000 Americans went to the theater to see the movie after watching the cam version which, well, just isn't true. If someone is a big enough fan of the film to download and watch the cam version, odds are they want to see it on the big screen as well and wouldn't have any issue paying for a ticket. It's like downloading a bootleg recording of a concert then saying that person will never attend a concert to watch that artist live.
TorrentFreak ultimately concludes that cam leaks aren't ruining the movie industry as many have suggested and that spending millions of dollars on anti-cam technology is a waste of time and money.