by Chris Eaton
Well, in a stunning display of unity, people turned out in DROVES for X-Men Origins: Wolverine this weekend. The initial estimate for the weekend was $87 million, but much like a hurricane once it moves inland, was down graded to $85 million. Still, a fantastic turn out for a movie that by all means was destined to fail…..
You might of noticed I trailed off there. I did that as foreshadowing! While $85 million is massively impressive (the film’s over all budget was $150, and after international tickets came it, its made its cost back) the now LEGENDARY leak of the work print on the net last month had everyone in the studio system and on the Internet blogs and board proclaiming to the sky’s that this movie will not make money. And why not? It was one of the most downloaded files on the net for almost a week.
Sure, it was only a work print, and only about..eh..80% done, but apparently if you get the main jest of it, one can ignore massive green screen fight scenes and un- removed wires for stunts. This was apparently Karma coming to bite Fox in their collective fat ass for their law suit against WATCHMEN, a film proclaimed by same community to be the greatest comic book film ever and would do phenomenal business. Something that Wolverine would never know. But in the end, time told its story. Watchmen, while great, only did marginal box office, and Wolverine, with a FUCKING BOOTLEG COPY floating on the net for the whole world to see, did almost twice the number of Watchmen. But comparing Watchmen and Wolverine is like comparing Apples and Oranges, they are different things all together.
What the real tale told here, heralded by some in almost sage like wisdom, was that this leak was probably more of a boon than anything else. The leak created publicity for the film, which it sorely needed. News of problems on the set, the director apparently being taken off the project, and RE-SHOOTS!! All fingers pointed to “THIS IS GOING TO SUCK”. And when that bootleg came out, due to some young scalawag who was maybe doing the lords work to take a bite out of the evils of Fox like McGruff the Crime Dog takes a bite out of crime, put it on the net for the world to see what was really going on. Justice would be served! EVERYONE WOULD WATCH THIS! It would be like Calgon. For if one person downloaded the file and watched it, they’d show two friends, and they showed two friends and so on and so on…
But the opposite seemed to happen. The whole idea of this work print being on the net was that THE ENTIRE WOLD would track it down and watch it. It scared Fox in to lying and tacking on different endings to try to recoup the loss. The idea was that this was originally going to open to X-Men the Last Stand numbers, $103 million over Memorial Day of 06 (ahh, summer) Now looking to barely break $45 mill due to its Internet peeps. But it didn’t happen. What did end up happening was this:
People who already had a negative lean towards this film watched the work print and proclaimed it shit. Fine.
But the opposite also happened. Many people who did download it, DIDNT WATCH IT??
How could they? Well the film simply wasn’t done yet, and seeing there was only a month left, decided to wait it out, and use that fact that they already had a copy of Wolverine before anyone else to feel a little special and maybe score some points with some potential love interest or impress the coworkers.
In then end, the screaming declarations of the Internet community, a community that complains the most and thinks that it has sway, was proven again, that its sway is very little, if none at all. Much like Snakes on a Plane, that had this enormous on line push, it fizzled at the theater. Wolverine’s on line leak didn’t do much in hampering its box office. Sure it might have lost a decent million or two, but there were many people who had already written this film off anyway, and were probably going to wait till a region 5 bootleg hit the net to watch it anyway.
What we can take away from all of this is great.
1. Pirating or bootlegging is getting better. This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. (Ang Lee’s Hulk had a similar incident happen to it) Nor will it be the last
2. Average Joe American (or Canuck) didn’t even know that there was bootleg out. It really showed that the whole world isn’t that Internet savvy, and that everyone and their brother were NOT out downloading this the day it was released.` So this ideal that the net has some great clout has been burst. Will it be this way next time? Who knows. With younger generations becoming far more tech savvy than the current generation at their age were, we might see a chunk finally taken out from Internet downloads. Its happened to the music industry, and its something the film industry has been fearing. But after this, maybe those fears are a little less unfounded.
All I know is this. IF that work print was legitimately stolen and released on the net, it came in with a roar and went with a whimper. A black eye was put on the naysayers that troll the boards and bittorent sites who feel that they have pull. Well, I can tell you, they have the pull of a 3 year old child in a tug of war contest with a large North Dakota Buffalo. Very limp!