will the wolverine file-sharing leak kill ticket sales?
Posted by Steve Woolf

For the past week or so, the web and Hollywood has been buzzing about the leaked workprint of the new Wolverine film, which opens May 1st. If you haven't heard, somehow a DVD-quality copy of the movie, with some incomplete special effects, has been downloaded millions of times through P2P file-sharing networks. Apparently Fox is so freaked out it that they called in the FBI to investigate.

As a filmmaker, I think it's understandable to be pissed off about this. Tons of people will watch an unfinished movie, which can color their opinion and produce negative word of mouth. Studios love word of mouth marketing, except when it's bad.

On the other hand, this is a losing battle. There are no mechanisms in place to control the spread of pirated videos, and there probably will never be anything that can outsmart the web. It is Fox's property, so in the strictest sense it's stealing, and heaven knows there are tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. They won't take it lightly.

The general thinking online is that if the movie is good, the leak won't negatively affect box office ticket sales. In fact, it might improve sales because of good word of mouth. On the other hand, if the movie sucks we're probably looking at a bomb. The tricky part of all this is whether or not we can judge the quality of a movie based on a workprint.

I haven't seen it, but what do you think? Will this leak sink the movie? And for the conspiracy theorists out there, I'll throw you a bone: did Fox know the movie sucked and purposefully leak a copy so they have a built-in excuse if the opening weekend numbers underperform? I'm just sayin'... ;)