Word spread last night over Twitter and other social networking sites that "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," the hotly anticipated 20th Century Fox film based on Marvel Comics' X-Men characters, had been leaked to the internet for illegalÂ dissemination. Directed by Gavin Hood and starring Hugh Jackman, the film is not due to be released until May 1.
As of this writing, a DVD-quality workprint version of the film is available on numerous file-sharing websites, with hundreds of thousands of users illegally downloading the various BitTorrent files. This version of the film is missing completed special effects shots and most likely other material that will be in the final version of the film, but as a consequence of the leak, early, spoiler-filled reviews have been posted across the Web.
Naturally, security questions are at the top of everyone's list. Who leaked the film, and how? CHUD.com writer Devin Faraci spoke to film industry insiders who said they're "surprised this doesn't happen more often," and that while film critics are heavily policed, a film's post-production process is anything but, concluding the "Wolverine" leak came from someone in that area, whether in digital effects, titles, or cutting the trailer. "Hell," Faraci writes, "it could be somebody working on the DVD release, for that matter."
There's no doubt that major film studios will reevaluate their security procedures in all areas of production in response to this potentially disastrous leak. Indeed, the more important question is how this piracy will hurt the film financially. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" is one of the first movies of its blockbuster caliber to be leaked in this way and this far away from its release date. As such, the film is in a unique position to answer many questions about the real impact of piracy, which has been the catch-all explanation for reduced revenue across the entertainment industry.Â Hitfix's Drew McWeeny characterizes the "Wolverine" situation as "an interesting practical test" of just that.
More on this story as it develops.