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NOT April Fool’s — a workprint of the new X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE movie has been leaked and is propagating everywhere right now, much to the dismay of releasing studio Fox.

The so-called work-print copy is said to be a high-quality, full-length version of the film without time codes or a studio watermark, though some special effects are not yet complete.

As expected, reviews and readers’ comments about the movie have proliferated across the Internet in the few hours since the bootleg copy began circulating.


Naturally, everyone at Fox is beyond furious — the movie doesn’t open for another month, and this could put a Juggernaut-sized dent in the potential box office. A similar situation occurred in 2003 when a workprint of Ang Lee’s THE HULK was leaked…bad word of mouth over the effects (which weren’t finished yet) may have helped sink the film, although the Hulk dogs may have also contributed. But a pristine print a full MONTH before the movie comes out? This is serious business.

Garth Franklin at Dark Horizons looks at potential fallout:

The hunt has begun and with something this large there won’t just be lawsuits and prosecutions, but major changes and security crackdowns on the post-production process where the source of the leak seems to have come from.

The other question of course is will the leak have any effect on the box-office? That’s a more murky question. Fox’s biggest earner this year, the thriller “Taken”, had DVD rips from the international release leak online months before the US release – yet it obviously had no impact.

Fox’s next film, “Dragonball Evolution” opening next Friday, was already released in select Asian countries last month and incomplete poor-quality camcorded versions started appearing on the torrenting sites the other week.

The studio itself has earned a rather bleak reputation of interfering with filmmakers and often ignoring screenings for critics over the past two years, a behavior reflected in weak box-office returns last year, which might be a motive for such a leak.


Whatever the motives, movie sites are also stammering with a response as internet chatter proliferates over what everyone agrees is a dirty deed gets posted at their sites. AICN says they will not run any WOLVERINE reviews until the movie is in actual theaters.

Because the only way you’re seeing it right now is through illegal channels, and we’re not going to condone that. I hate running this story, but the deluge is about to come. Forums on other movie news sites are already overrun with links and reactions to a fairly high quality studio workprint that leaked this evening – and I don’t care to comment on any of it because I don’t want to encourage piracy at a time when the studios are laying off employees in droves. This is bad, bad, bad for the business.

But it’s also unprecedented. While I don’t know if this is the biggest film to ever leak (back in 2007, there were reports of SPIDER-MAN 3 rips turning up in China a week prior to release), I can’t think of a single $100 million-plus summer tentpole that hit the internet a full month early. This is significant because, as Drew posted at HitFix, no matter how hard Fox cracks down on this leak, the toothpaste is out of the tube. If you want to watch WOLVERINE online, you’re not going to have to work too hard to find it.


The Hulk leaker was eventually found and prosecuted — it turned out to be a guy from New Jersey who got a tape from a pal who worked for an ad agency. Security codes got him caught…if they ever figure out who leaked Wolvie, he or she will be left to the mercy of Rupert Murdoch. May God have mercy upon their soul.

1 COMMENT

  1. I’m all for stickin’ it to The Man, but what does one actually gain by watching a major action film on a tiny computer screen and with crappy speakers?

    The movie is still going to open north of $100 million. It would still open that huge if FOX itself released an official free copy of the film for download on its website because people like to watch movies where they’re supposed to watch movies, and the downloading public is only a small sampling of the entire movie watching public. A lot of people download a lot of things now, but the film-going experience is what sells the thing. I could hand out free DVDs of this film in front of a huge multiplex, and out of ever 100 people showing up to watch the film I bet only 3-5 would actually take one and walk away. The rest would just pick one up on the way out if they liked the film.

    Nobody likes having their product stolen, and they SHOULD find the real culprit–the person who copied it to make it available for download. Even in this bleak economy, the movie business is noticibly up, and there haven’t been very many “good” movies released yet. Wolverine will be huge…unless people start hitting their credit limits before May and have no job prospects. Downloaders know they can download anything they want at practically any time, and this changes nothing. The Dark Knight still made over half a billion dollars in America and probably has had the most downloads of any feature film. Not every download translates to a lost ticket sale. It’s actually very possible that most of the people who will watch Wolverine will do so in the theatre (possibly more than once), on 2-3 of the various pointless DVD releases which the studios now use to get more money out of a consumer than they should, and on their various media players using illegal or legal downloads. Only one of these options is potentially free for most people, and considering how the invention of DVD has made more money for movie studios than they could have possibly imagined, they need to get some perspective.

    Relax, Chicken Little, the sky is not falling.

  2. I think it’s not the leak itself that Fox should be worried about, at least not when it comes to the potential commercial success of the movie (legally, well, that is a different issue). DVD Screeners for Grand Torino were out, didn’t harm the box office. DVD copies of Taken were out, didn’t harm the box office.

    Let’s say maybe 500,000 people worldwide download the torrent. And be gracious in our accounting and say that none of them will go and watch the movie. At 10 dollars a pop (local prices may vary) that would be roughly 5 million in lost box office. Bad? Yes. But we also have to keep in mind that a lot of those who download it are probably the hardcore of the hardcore geeks, who “just can’t wait”, which means that maybe half of them will see the movie in the theatres, even after watching a work print. So, maybe 2.5 million Dollars of potentially lost B.O. globally.

    (We have to remember, it’s a work print. From the news items it appears F/X and music aren’t even fully done, so it’s not like the movie will be a pleasure to watch)

    Again. Boo. Boo. Legally. But not the issue, not really.

    No.

    What Fox has to worry about is when those “geek aggregators” either start posting or start telling their friends to “not bother watching the movie, it really sucks”, as some have already done in the comments section of AICN and other places. Let us take the number of 500,000 again, and let’s say each one of them tells 10 people that the movie is shit (before anybody gets their nuts in a twist, I don’t know if the movie is shit, I am not downloading it, but then again… I am also not seeing it in the theatres. I found the trailers to be incredibly silly).

    All over sudden, under the scenario, you may wind up with 5,000,000 people globally who – swayed by their friends – say, naw, not worth my money. That would mean 50 million in loss of potential B.O.

    Considering the news from an apparently problamtic set and more bad news throughout post production that hit the nets, this is something that would warrant going to “Brown Alert”, as President Colbert says.

  3. AICN can really work up themselves up into a froth of righteous indignation sometimes, can’t they? And I’m sure when someone sends them a PDF of the “Dark Knight” sequel screenplay that they will of course report that person to the proper authorities.

    Origins: You watch movies on a computer screen? I highly recommend buying a cheap computer and plugging it into the TV with HDMI. You can also use an XBox 360. Then you can watch films full screen with 5.1 surround. Or, you know, so I’ve heard.

  4. The lack of special effects in the workprint of hulk didn’t sink that film…. the fact that the film was shockingly bad sank that film

  5. Unless there have been major reshoots to the film’s ending since this leaked copy was made, this whole hulaballoo may save a lot of Deadpool fans a considerable amount of heartache.

    “Merc with a mouth” with no mouth? Seriously?

  6. Charles – even before that, the character’s style and delivery is nothing like any deadpool I’ve read about, he’s just some random merc.

  7. Maybe I’m behind the times, but I still think downloaded video looks like crap even if it’s played on a 1080p television.

    The vocal minority of AICN readers and comics fans will make no impact on opening weekend of this film. They can scream their fool heads off at any of the passers-by and I doubt a single one would be persuaded to not watch this film because nobody really cares what they think. If I try to tell my girlfriend that this movie will suck, she’ll respond with “who cares?! Hugh Jackman is sexy!” Say it will suck to the casual fan, and they’ll probably say “who cares?! Wolverine is bad ass!”

    Much Ado About Nothing… which, incidentally, is a film I enjoyed despite many people saying it sucked.

  8. Yeah.. Deadpool sucked. I hope this print was from before the reshoots. Um.. not that I’ve seen this video or anything. Still, from the trailers, action figures, and even Reynolds himself we knew we were not getting the merc with the mouth. Now, we just have higher res images of how they actually sewed his mouth shut and regernerated over.

    I first heard about this leak on another message board when someone posted this image. I saw it and was surprised at the resolution and clarity. Of course I was also kinda disgusted with what happened to Mr. Wilson. Yet again, we’d already seen this in trailers and scratched out heads.
    http://img14.imageshack.us/my.php?image=deadpooldudepeel5375313.png

  9. “they ever figure out who leaked Wolvie, he or she will be left to the mercy of Rupert Murdoch. May God have mercy upon their soul. ”

    Lol! :) no kidding!

    And if the poor sucker happens to be in the news business…..we may never hear from them again!

  10. “Maybe I’m behind the times, but I still think downloaded video looks like crap even if it’s played on a 1080p television.”

    Playing downloaded stuff will make most downloaded stuff look especially like crap.

  11. This is bad. Somebody just ruined their career, and possibly their life, over a superhero movie. This was a dumb stunt. If the movie doesn’t make money, future movies don’t get made, people don’t get jobs, and the economy suffers. This is bad for America.

    Who ever did this is probably having an anxiety attack. That’s right buddy. They’re coming for you.

  12. Hulk would be better if they used a Lou Farigno Type guy instead of the obviously fake computer generated thing they been using…thats why the movie hasn’t made the money they hoped for…imo as for the leak…for those that get it. it just makes some wanna see it more. i doubt anyone has a movie theater sized screen at their house or the sounds system that only a movie theater can provide. perhaps the movie industry can bring back the old drive-in theaters. those bring back some good memories. but are a dying breed…imo

  13. Guys! I’m ANGRY! Angry about THE INTERNET!

    The quality is crap, everything is stolen, and those damn kids won’t stay off my lawn!

    The point being missed here is that hahahahahahahahahaha Wolverine: Origins is crap.

  14. AERose brings up a good point, Fox wonders if the unfinished unedited stolen copy of wolverine will hurt box office sales…hmm i have yet to see the stolen copy that i did not d/l, but i gotta say…if its not finished and scenes are missing…bungie cords and other special effects are not editted out. its almost like you’d have to see it in the theater to watch it complete. its almost like the movie company purposely put this crap copy out to get people interested in the movie. regardless if its good or bad, its X-Men. Its a new movie…not a remake. Come may i’m gonna fork out the $50 its gonna cost for my lady and I to go see this movie(including drinks and food) Gee i wonder whats hurting box office sales?

  15. I didn’t mean to imply that it was crap because of what was missing, it was crap because the only watchable character was Sabertooth and Wade Wilson went from Neo to the Merc Without a Mouth. I fully expect the movie to be only marginally less lame in theaters.

    My point, if any, was that the minor setbacks of multi billion dollar media conglomerates are just that. In short: nothing to see here.

  16. When it all comes down to it….you the **** cares what you think? If you don’t like the movie then why waste your time posting in here? Dont go to see it, erase the illegal copy u have on your pc and be done…

  17. “Origins:
    “I’m all for stickin’ it to The Man …”

    Huh???

    What has Fox done to make them ‘the Man?” ”

    They’re a corporation; They’re The Man.

    Oh, and I was a bit excited at the thought of Ryan Reynolds delivering some Deadpool dialog in his sarcastic smart-arsed way, but if what people are saying is true, the screenwriter screwed up big time. I was fairly surprised to even be seeing his face in the trailers, but I figured maybe they were gonna fix it toward the end of the film…. instead, they apparently broke it some more, lit it on fire and fashioned it into a hideous beast of a kindergarden art class abomination and shouted “ta da!!! look what I made!” while sporting a toothy grin of satisfaction.

  18. Yes, the leak is bad but the movie will succeed or fail on its own merits.

    Going to the movies is a social event and if Wolverine is great people will want to go see it in a theater.

    I-Tunes is still popular despite the fact that you can get almost any song for free.