Yes, an unfinished version of Fox’s upcoming summer blockbuster Wolverine was unleashed online last Wednesday, causing much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Hollywood.
As it turns out, though, the piracy may have been better promotion than a Super Bowl ad, and certainly cheaper, at least according to Wolverine’s fans, who don’t seem like their trips to the theatre will be deterred by the leak.
Even though the film has reportedly been downloaded more than 100,000 times since Wednesday, many fanboys are refusing to watch pirated copy, recognising that it’s an incomplete version. Ain’t It Cool News has urged people to avoid the unfinished version and said it wouldn’t publish any reviews until the film is completed.
AICN’s Harry Knowles explains the logic behind the site’s decision:
Part of the reason that I decided not to run reviews on AICN of WOLVERINE based on the work print was the knowledge that this is a 3-4 month old print – that had 2-3 weeks of reshoots and millions of work put into it to make it better, because they were not happy with that version. The only point in seeing that workprint is as a comparison to the finished version, to see the process in which the Producers and Director and Studio went through to try and make WOLVERINE as good as it could be…what is online is a snapshot from months ago of a film with reportedly dire issues, which they allegedly took fairly intense steps to correct.
But many people who watched the pirated version, are still willing to fork over $10 to see it in the theatre, just as Fox CEO Tom Rothman said they would.
Scanning the message boards on IMDB and Ain’t It Cool News over the weekend, many downloaders said they would want to see the final product because they were aware that a lot was missing, including special effects and material filmed during recent reshoots.
Here’s a sampling of the comments from the downloaders on IMDB’s Wolverine message board and in response to AICN’s “We Don’t Want Your Wolverine Reviews” post:
“just watched… the movie might be good when its done. cuz the movie out there now.. has actors still using the wires.. cgi effects undone.. probably some deleted scenes still on the workprint… this movie was good for the workprint, probably will get better once they release the final product may 1. and of course im gonna watch the movie at the theatres. the workprint does not do this movie justice.”—fred-dundum
“When this movie was in production, i was sooooooo sceptical about everything…BUt after seeing the rough cut that leaked out, i realise I WAS WRONG!!! im fired up to see the final, in theatres…My only hopes that fox takes the criticisms people are throwing out on it and does it better.” –maverisk2004
“As someone who has seen the workprint I cannot wait to see this movie in theatres. Because that leaked workprint had more holes, problems, and issues then a coked out prostitute. There is no way that workprint is the final version (…I am not talking about the CGI, special effects) I mean just basic plot points, and explanations.”– da6me6in6
“yes i downloaded it and watched it and know the story somewhat but trust me even if you see the workprint you’re still going to have to go see in the theatre to fully experiance the full movie with cgi effects fully intact…in the past i’ve always found it interesting to see the workprint version and then see the full version just to see how they’ve improved it. what changes they’ve made. i find myself sometimes going “wow, the changed the ending completly.” or “they didn’t kill that guy like in the workprint”.”—hellnback
“It wasn’t horrible like some people say. I didn’t mind it…I love the temp score, which was actually the score from the transformers. It was also really interesting to see a working copy of a movie. Its weird to see all the wires on people, and the unfinished FX. I will still probably spend the 10 bucks to see it with my friends when it comes out just to see what kind of musical score it will have and how the FX turn out.”—cossack_says_die
What’s perhaps most problematic for Fox are those people who are criticising the movie based on the incomplete version, because much of what they seem to have problems with (characters being shortchanged or lacking motivation and plot points that don’t make sense) seem like the kinds of things that would exist in an unfinished film but would be completed by the final edit.
If Fox’s marketing folks are smart, they’ll keep reminding the world that this is an unfinished version missing many key components. It may be the only way to get downloaders offering early negative reviews back into the theatres.
In fact, this scandal may serve as the true test of Fox’s legendary marketing ability.
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