Showing up on all of the popular torrent sites this April Fool’s day was a file purporting to contain the unreleased ‘Wolverine’ movie. But unlike the fake torrents that constantly fill the search results of these sites, this release was no joke.
A near complete work print of the movie, although seemingly about 14-16 minutes shorter than the final film might be, was out in the open for any who wanted to download it. Not to be confused with a screener, which is a full copy of the movie with (usually) watermarks for tracking purposes, this was a work print. It is missing scenes, some special effects and even the complete score.
Being a work also seems to narrow down the “leaker” as someone with a direct connection to the movie. Not necessarily someone on the film itself, but possibly a friend or relative of someone involved. Of course, there is the possibility of outright theft as well.
Every news story about this, and about other movies in the past, all scream about how much money the studio will lose because the movie has been leaked online.
It’s very much like software pirating. I see illegal copies of Photoshop being used all over the internet. But Adobe isn’t really losing money. These people were never potential customers for them, they only download it because they can. There are free image editors that handle what most of these people use Photoshop for and similarly, I firmly believe that anyone who claims that they won’t go see the film because they downloaded it already had no intention of going to the movies to see it.
But, as usual, the movie studios are looking at this in the completely wrong way – trying to position themselves as a victim, instead of seeing an opportunity.
Can’t they see what’s right in front of them?
Most reports indicate that the movie was downloaded a few hundred thousand times. That’s a movie with missing scenes, incomplete music, incomplete special effects and poor video resolution, being illegally downloaded by a very small group of people – most people haven’t a clue as to what a ‘Torrent’ file is.
Instead of crying about the money that you are losing to a downloaded work print, cry about the money you are losing by not offering the movie as an easy to download HD version via the internet or On-Demand systems.
I’m not saying that a movie doesn’t deserve its theatrical run – I go to the movies more than any person I know, or have met, but the amount of activity around this movie alone proves that people are hungry for an easier way to consume media. All the pieces are seemingly there. The internet speeds, home networking, TIVO’s, DVR’s and media centers built into computers and game systems.
We just need someone to put out the content.
And if the last batch of ‘Star Wars’ movies proved anything, it’s that being leaked online and being bad won’t result in bad box office.