I was perusing the Internet yesterday and found something unusual: a movie that was to be released on May 1 instead appeared, in very high quality yet with glaring problems. The movie was X-Men Origins: Wolverine and it featured a certain very hirsute Australian actor playing a guy with claws. That’s all I’ll say.
Not to be hyperbolic, we are witnessing the rise of media terrorism. This workprint, essentially a version of the movie released to the various parties who have a stake in the film – either in testing, special effects, or editing – was not released by a happy person. The fact that you rarely see workprints of any value online – the last one of any interest was probably Star Wars Episode 3 – is a testament to the value the parties involved put on secrecy and trust. People who like their jobs don’t leak workprints like X-Men. Sure, Paul Blart Mall Cop got a workprint release, but who cares about that? I suspect the people working on X-Men are proud of their work – heck, they’re making cool sci-fi movies! – and they don’t want people to steal it.
Here is Fox’s official stance on the leak:
“Last night, a stolen, incomplete and early version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine was posted illegally on a website. It was without many effects, had missing and unedited scenes and temporary sound and music. We immediately contacted the appropriate legal authorities and had it removed. We forensically mark our content so we can identify sources that make it available or download it. The source of the initial leak and any subsequent postings will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law – the courts have handed down significant criminal sentences for such acts in the past. The FBI and the MPAA also are actively investigating this crime. We are encouraged by the support of fansites condemning this illegal posting and pointing out that such theft undermines the enormous efforts of the filmmakers and actors, and above all, hurts the fans of the film.”
My official stance is that the movie kicked ass and I want to see it in theaters.
That said, could this have been an inside job? Could someone at a company that has been downsizing lately have done this out of spite? What happens when workprints become fodder for blackmail?
I’m not saying this will happen, but this is the first time I’ve seen such a highly anticipated release so long before its official release date. Maybe resident pirate Nicholas can set me straight, but this is a scary leak and indicative of things to come. Disgruntled employees can easily create a digital copy of anything out there and leak it. They usually don’t because they’re not usually disgruntled. But someone, somewhere must have been amazingly mad at someone to dump this movie on the masses. Even the piracy motive doesn’t stand up here.