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Hear that? That’s the sound of executives at 20th Century Fox falling all over themselves in a desperate attempt to bring the Internet to a halt. Why? Because someone, somewhere has leaked a near DVD quality copy of Fox’s biggest Summer movie, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” onto the Internet a full month ahead of its May 1 release. And did I mention this thing isn’t some crappy copy of the movie shot with a camcorder? And no, this is not an April Fools joke, though Fox probably wishes it was.
Word from Hitfix is that the leaked copy is “a near-finished DVD quality rip, marred only by a few unfinished FX shots.” In fact, there aren’t even any of those pesky timecodes or watermarks to mar your pirating experience. The only missing elements to the pirated copy seems to be scenes from director Gavin Hood’s recent reshoots of the film, which, according to actor Hugh Jackman, was the result of scheduling conflicts with the cast/crew, and not problems with the movie itself. So basically if you’re watching the pirated copy, you’ll be watching an unfinished version of the movie, and definitely not something Hood intended.
Obviously when someone leaks a (from all reports) very nice copy of your movie onto the Internet for free a full month ahead of your movie’s opening, it’s a major cause for concern. Making matters worst for Fox is that every movie blog is already jumping on this story, and pretty soon the major newspapers will be following suit (as soon as they wake up, one presumes), which will lead to more people searching the net for the movie, resulting in more pirating of the movie, etc etc. It’s a vicious circle, to be sure, and I wouldn’t want to be the bean counters at Fox right now.
At the moment, the studio is no doubt sending their legal shock troops throughout the web trying to pull the movie down, but at this point, gentlemen, good luck. The Internet is such that as soon as you pull down one copy of something, ten more will just appear to take its place. Also, good luck going after Hans in Serbia or Croatia or somewhere selling the movie as a DVD out of the back of his mom’s rented mule.
So how will this affect “Wolverine’s” opening? I happen to think it won’t make too much of a dent. The vast, vast majority of moviegoers are too dumb to know not to click on an email telling them that they’ve just inherited $2 millon tax-free bucks from a rich uncle in Nigeria that they’ve never heard of, so I doubt if many people will know where to even start looking to download a copy of “Wolverine”. Sure, the kids will know how, but the kids always know how, and I doubt there are enough of them to make too big of an impact on the film’s box office take.
I could be wrong, of course.