The entertainment industry seems all abuzz about the online leaking of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” – the set-to-be blockbuster of the upcoming summer season. The leak has now spread through the Internet in just a matter of hours. In fact, the long-awaited flick was unleashed on the Web on Tuesday. Earlier tonight (Wednesday) I almost passed out when I saw it in downtown Amman in one of the black market DVD shops. At first, I refused to believe that it was a real copy; I have seen movie leaks before, but never this early (one month prior to release), especially with a blockbuster where directors and studios are typically editing to the last minute. Yet, I was assured.
I sat down with a couple of friends and popped in the movie. Sure enough, it was spot on. There’s no doubt that it’s a fake. It’s the real deal. BUT. Something didn’t feel right. The colors were a little faded and even the music was a bit off. About 10 minutes in to the movie a scene appears in which the title character is flying in a hi-tech plane, except what you really see is a rough sketch of a plane in the air (think Microsoft Flight Simulator, the 1995 edition).
Turns out, the leak is a workprint and most of the digital and special effects have not yet been placed. How bad? Well, 15 minutes in to the film, Ryan Reynold’s character, Deadpool, steps off an elevator and runs through a narrow room of machine-gun shooting Haitians, chopping up their bullets with his quick sword work, and as he jumps through the air and comes in for a smooth landing, you see the ropes still attached to Reynold’s back.
So, bottom line, if you’re an X-Man fan and you’ve been waiting to see this film for ages, like I have, this is the moment where you click on the “stop” button, take out the DVD and crack it in half. Don’t ruin the cinematic experience. You can watch this version afterward for humor.
I have to admit, this case has really got me thinking about film piracy. In Jordan, we don’t get the latest films in the cinema and it’s hard to survive as a movie buff. If the latest movies were in cinema I would go more often, but they’re not, so we have to rely on pirated copies. Wolverine is an example of a movie that I would be prepared to watch an early leak, but still go to watch it in cinemas when it comes out. But this latest case just makes me wonder if maybe pirates have gone too far. No true fan would want to watch a watered-down version of Wolverine, or any film really that relies on special effects.
In any case, the main reason I’m writing about this is because it reminded me how bootlegs used to work in Jordan. We used to get a monthly subscription at places like Video House, who rented out VHS and Betamax copies of films. Then the Internet came around and places started selling DVD copies for 1JD. The black market of pirated DVDs flourished in the past 2 to 3 years, and it’s no longer Video House, where the guy behind the counter knows little about movies. The guys who run these businesses watch every flick that comes their way.
The common denominator in this on-going legacy of pirated movies is speed. How quickly can they attain a copy of a movie you really want to watch? Today, it all depends on the Internet and user interaction: tell them what you want and if it’s available, you’ll see it on the shelf the next day.
So last night pretty much marked a milestone in Jordan’s DVD black market, as stores started selling Wolverine withing 24 hours of the leak.
Anyways, Fox had this to say about it’s leaked blockbuster, which might put a dent in its earnings:
“Last night, a stolen, incomplete and early version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine was posted illegally on websites. It was without many effects and had missing 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 and the last person who committed such a crime is still in jail.
The FBI and the MPAA also are actively investigating this crime. We are encouraged by the support of fansites condemning piracy and 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.”