X-Men Origins: Wolverine has leaked on the Internet a month before it is officially released. Clearly a serious breach of the anti-piracy measures put in place over the past several years. But what will the fallout of this leak be?
Movies leaking online isn’t new or unusual. In fact, much to the movie industry’s chagrin, you can find pretty much every movie ever released online these days. There are the obvious legal options but there are also a multitude of options for illegally downloading or watching movies and television content on the Internet.
The problem for the movie industry is that once one file is made available and disseminated, it’s almost impossible to stop the flow outward. All the while one copy of the movie is available on a peer-to-peer service then someone, somewhere will be able to get hold of it illegally. And millions do exactly that on a daily basis.
The Measure Of Success
Movies usually leak a few days after they go on general release in the cinema. The Dark Knight, the Batman sequel released last year to much acclaim, first leaked 38 hours after the movie was released. Although far from happy, Warner Bros. hailed this as a victory of the measures it has in place during production to prevent inadvertent leaks.
In the case of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, these measures seem to have been shown to be completely inept, with a rough version of the movie finding its way onto multiple torrent trackers over a month before release. The news of the leak broke on April 1, leading many to suspect it was an April Fool’s Day joke, but hundreds of thousands of downloads suggest otherwise.
A Serious Crime?
The version of the X-Men spin-off telling the story of Wolverine’s background leaked online is thought to be a half-finished, mid-production copy. It’s shorter than the final cut will be, has many CGI sequences missing, and includes none of the additional scenes filmed at the beginning of this year. However, the quality is thought to be good, almost DVD-like thanks to being a workprint copy.
20th Century Fox has responded in the only way it knows, immediately contacting the appropriate authorities and having it removed from the sites it was being shared on. These are known to have included Mininova and The Pirate Bay. The FBI and MPAA have also been called into investigate the crime and pinpoint where in the chain the leak occurred.
Although I wouldn’t suspect any less, there’s really no need to make quite such a fuss. The person or people responsible for the leak will clearly be prosecuted if discovered, entirely possible thanks to forensic marks embedded into the copy. But I doubt this leak will actually affect how the movie performs at the box-office.
The fact it’s a half-finished copy could mean some shoddy reviews get posted on the Web but I suspect most people will want to make their own minds up about a film this highly-anticipated. As for box-office takings, the fact that The Dark Knight was the most-pirated movie of 2008 but was also a huge hit at cinemas shows any statement that the two are negatively linked out to be a lie.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine opens worldwide on May 1, 2009.
[Via The New York Times]
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