You might have noticed the Japanese zombie horror film, One Cut of the Dead, is currently available for free on Amazon Prime both here in the United States and in the United Kingdom. It’s not supposed to be.
The film, distributed by Third Window Films, is due for a theatrical release in the U.K. in just a few short days, but late last night it appeared on Amazon Prime in the United States and the United Kingdom complete with some clearly terrible subtitles.
According to Third Window Films, who maintains the rights to distribution and sales worldwide, this is a bootleg uploaded to Amazon Prime without Third Window Film’s permission.
“It’s pretty insane to be honest,” Adam Torel of Third Window Films told Gizmodo via e-mail. “Not sure how in this day and age films can be illegally uploaded to such major sites as Amazon which are supposed to be very strict about what they take on.”
The film was likely uploaded via Amazon Prime Video Direct—an Amazon service designed to make it easier for smaller film distributors to upload to content intended for monetization to Amazon Prime Video. Prime Video Direct does not appear to require proof of permission to upload from the copyright holder and instead provides a link to report content that may infringe on copyright, similar to how you report content on YouTube.
We’ve reached out to Amazon to learn exactly how the film appeared on Prime, without the permission of its right’s holders, and will update once we hear back.
Torel and Third Window Films are worried about how this early release could effect the film’s box office in the U.K. and Asian markets. But he’s particularly concerned for what this could mean for U.S. distribution. According to Torel Third Window was already in conversation with a number of U.S. distributors about a larger release in the market and the film’s presence, for free, on Amazon Prime, could harm those talks. He also expressed concern for how this could affect the film’s presence at U.S. film festivals.
Gizmodo’s Germain Lussier saw the film at a U.S. festival (Fantastic Fest) earlier this year and claims its easily one of the best horror films of the year. The film, about a low budget zombie movie’s film set being invaded by actual zombies, was made for just 3 million yen—about $27,000—and shot in only 8 days.
UPDATE 12:51 a.m. December 31 — The film is no longer available via Amazon Prime.