The film industry is claiming that more than a million Star Wars fans saw the film on the internet before it was released.
Studio executives say that hundreds of thousands of illegal copies of Attack of the Clones were downloaded prior to the film's premiere last Thursday.
Richard Taylor, of Hollywood's governing body the Motion Picture Association of America, told The Guardian that internet piracy of motion pictures had become an epidemic.
Other big-budget movies likely to be copied include the Spider-Man movie.
Taylor predicted that, by the end of the year, more than a million downloads of films will be taking place daily, costing Hollywood billions of pounds.
The issue is expected to become worse as broadband internet connections offer much faster download times for the huge memory-intensive files.
One of the biggest areas of piracy is eastern Europe. Speaking exclusively to vnunet.com, a Bulgarian university student claimed to have a collection of more than 300 movies, including Attack of the Clones.
The student downloads the huge files from the internet overnight on a 56Kbps modem. "The films are distributed among our friends. We just loan them to each other and copy them," he said.
Pirated films are of limited quality and frequently the soundtrack is not properly lip-synched. "That does not bother us. Most of us are reading the subtitles in Bulgarian," he explained
The student indicated that he has little sympathy for the Hollywood studios. "In Bulgaria a DVD costs about the same as it does in Germany or the UK, but our salaries are about a third of those countries," he said.
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