On the heels of potentially game-changing news that the producers of the Oscar winning movie “The Hurt Locker” has filed lawsuits against 5,000 Bittorrent users (with more to come) who have pirated a copy of their movie, seeking damages in the thousands per violation, there’s this very timely and curious maneuver by Ashton Kutcher, who has stated that he will “pirate” the first 10 or so minutes of his upcoming action-comedy “Killers” to put online for people to see for free. Yup, he used the dreaded “p” word, too.
He tweeted it, saying:
going live 2 the web & pirating the 1st 10 min of Killers from the premiere.
Then later he went on the Ellen DeGeneres show and added, in case you thought he was kidding:
I like the movie so much that I’m going to show it online, on the web; I’m going to pirate the first 13 minutes of the movie.
It’s entirely implausible that Lionsgate wouldn’t know what Kutcher is doing, and I would be very surprised if the studio and actor didn’t hatch the plan together. And even if Lionsgate had nothing to do with it, I doubt if they’ll tell their movie star to zip it while he’s currently storming the media rounds to promote the film.
Kutcher currently has 5 million followers on his Twitter account, so yes, apparently people do care what he has to say on a daily basis. And let’s face it, the same people who spend all day following him on Twitter are also the same people who are more inclined to see his movies, especially something as innocuous looking as “Killers”.
The irony here is that this isn’t really new, or at least it wouldn’t be if not for the “Hurt Locker” lawsuit. Studios show off whole chunks of their movies to the public all the time, in “clip” form and in some cases, entire first 10 minutes. I still remember “I am Legend” putting the first 10 minutes of the film online for free viewing a few years back.
The big ticket here, of course, is that Kutcher is going around calling it “piracy”, which I’m sure doesn’t sit well with many producers, especially those behind “The Hurt Locker”. Then again, actors are not producers in most cases, so they don’t always suffer the same way that producers do when revenue is lost due to piracy. They do the movie, they get paid, and they move on. Producers don’t have that luxury.