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Epic Prereleases

Postby SlyckTom » Fri Apr 03, 2009 1:25 pm

Media that finds its way online before their intended release have always been a part of the file-sharing community. Known as prereleases, big named movies that appear on BitTorrent or the Newsgroups are always high profile cases. Some of the most anticipated and popular movie events are landmark cases in prerelease history. The March 31st leak of” X-Men Origins: Wolverine” one month prior to its scheduled release goes down as perhaps the most significant of these events. According to online sources, the movie is incomplete but watchable. Many of the special effects are supposedly unfinished, as wires holding the actors are apparently still visible.

When a movie such as “The Love Guru” is prereleased, the event causes some stir, but the circumstance is incomparable to the investment placed in movies such as X-Men or the Star Wars prequels. As a result, when a movie such as Wolverine is found floating around BitTorrent, just about every mainstream media resource is reporting the story. The frenzy surrounding the prerelease of Wolverine is the most intense and on par with the prerelease of the Star Wars prequels and Ang Lee’s 2003 “The Hulk”.

That’s because Fox has a lot riding on this movie, about $150 million by some estimates (actually budget figures haven’t been released). The major question then becomes, what impact will Wolverine’s unprecedented 1 month prerelease have on the studio’s ability to not only see a return on their investment, but to make all the trouble worthwhile and make a decent profit?

To know the answer to that question, we’ll need to take a look backwards at some milestone prerelease events. The most significant and comparable prerelease events are the early arrivals of “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (AOTC)”, Ang Lee’s “The Hulk”, “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith(ROTS)”, and “American Gangster”.

The 2002 release of AOTC was preempted by this film appearing online about 2 weeks early. This was the first time a big budget movie was available to wide audience. In 2002, BitTorrent wasn’t nearly as popular as today; however, there were other mechanisms, such as FastTrack and the Newsgroups that provided a popular avenue for this film’s distribution. Additionally, broadband had begun making significant inroads, which made downloading a large movie file (700 MB or more) more practical.

Although George Lucas and the studios were furious at the film’s leak, AOTCs had no problem recouping its $115 million investment. AOTC opened #1 in the North American box office, and reaped nearly $650 million in worldwide revenue.

Looking to avoid another leak, security was tightened when ROTS came to theaters in 2005. It appears that George Lucas and Fox’s efforts paid off, as ROTS was not prereleased until a few hours prior to its theatrical run. Regardless, the BitTorrent tracker EliteTorrents still featured this torrent early. The response to this event set the protocol for future prerelease enforcement.

The movie industry immediately enlisted the help of the FBI, who helped investigate the leak. The administrator of EliteTorrents, who was ultimately responsible for prereleasing the movie, was arrested the next day. Scott and a co-administrator pled guilty to and were convicted of two counts of criminal copyright infringement, ultimately spending 6 months in federal prison and an additional 6 months under house arrest.

Despite the entertainment industry’s rhetoric, Lucas’ investment of $113 million ultimately paid off as AOTC saw a return of nearly $850 million in worldwide revenue.

American Gangster wasn’t quite an event movie like Star Wars or Wolverine, however, this movie takes a special place in prerelease history. Two weeks prior to the theatrical release, a screener copy of exceptional quality appeared online. The Russell Crowe/Denzel Washington flick had received critical praise and was highly anticipated. There were fears that the early release could damper sales of this rather expensive film.

If there was any impact on the movie’s box office performance, it wasn’t nearly enough to make the film unprofitable. The movie, which had a $100 million budget, saw worldwide revenue total $265 million. The return margin wasn’t as dramatic as the Star Wars prequels (nor could it be expected) , but it the movie opened still opened at #1 in North America and proved that prereleased films could still draw large crowds.

Ang Lee’s 2003 release of “The Hulk” appeared online at least 1-2 weeks early. The movie had a budget of $135 million – a very expensive price even today. It was no surprise that news of this prerelease caused panic in the movie industry. It was the second big leak following AOTC, and this time, fears of a box office bomb came true.

“The Hulk” opened in North American theaters at #1 with an opening weekend of $61 million – not bad but well below expectations. Then disaster struck; the film’s second weekend saw revenue of only $18 million, a drop of nearly 70%. The film never recovered at the box office, bringing in only a marginal return of $245 million in worldwide revenue –about $20 million less than American Gangster.

However, it’s unlikely that piracy had anything to do with The Hulk’s embarrassing performance in 2003. More likely, fans were unsatisfied with the quality of the movie, as many felt the movie lacked depth. Indeed, The Hulk wasn’t necessarily a bad movie; it simply lacked the story development featured in blockbusters such as Spiderman or The Dark Knight.

The super-blockbuster The Dark Knight wasn’t prereleased, but a relatively high quality version appeared one day after the theatrical release. This did little to change The Dark Knight’s massive $1 billion worldwide revenue (budget was ~$185 million). File-sharing networks often take the heat for prereleases and leaks, but more often than not, these leaks are the result of an insider. You can’t expect to throw a bag candy in a kindergarden class not it to be devoured. The real blame, if there is such a blame that exists, belongs to the security flaws that allow this to occur. But in the end, it’s doubtful an early leak changes a movie’s revenue. If Wolverine is a good movie, the studios have nothing to worry about.



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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby P2P_Zion » Fri Apr 03, 2009 4:28 pm

I know no one in the studio leaked it, but was just carless none the less.. No watermarks to block anything out that could trace it back, so obviously their far from the source which is why they dont need to blur anything out. Plus some scene groups who had this would of waited til opening day. I remember that sucky movie P2 came out on friday, replica released a screener of it at the same day. It probably would gross 200 million opening weekend.
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby curzlgt » Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:20 pm

Nice article Tom.

The studios clearly need to be looking in house and in system for blame. by the time it hits file sharers, forget about it. The studios just seem too stupid. They worry more about stopping cammers in the theater than screeners and this type of release. They really don't seem to have a clue who their "real enemy" is. Or that most of their "perceived enemy's" could really care less about a cam release.

Here's a good reiteration of what you covered.

http://chud.com/articles/articles/18792 ... Page1.html

oh, and this particular release, I have heard for a source I trust implicitly, is well worth the download. :wink:

here's some more coverage. A lot of it good for a laugh or two.........

http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/a ... overnight/

2ND UPDATE: I've just been given this statement by 20th Century Fox:

"Last night, a stolen, incomplete and early version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine was posted illegally on a website. It was without many effects, had missing and unedited 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 in the past. The FBI and the MPAA also are actively investigating this crime. We are encouraged by the support of fansites condemning 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."


With the film opening on May 1st, this leak could cause incalculable damage to the box office of the latest in the valuable X-Men franchise.


The execs say it may contain a virus.


:lol:

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/Mov ... 197&page=2

Considering "Hulk's" fate, if the "Wolverine" leak doesn't generate an onslaught of bad reviews like the one by Lemke, it stands to reason that the film will do just fine at the box office.

"In some ways, this is sort of like 'X-Men 4,' and when you get to the fourth installment of any series, you can have audience erosion," said Gitesh Pandya, editor of BoxOfficeGuru.com. "So this movie really needs to excite the fan base."

And if more fans than not are enticed by what they saw online, it's likely they'll line up to see "Wolverine" on the big screen.

"Fox wants to show off this film in its best possible light, and this takes away some of their ability to market the film effectively, but seeing it in its unfinished version may just whet the appetite for people to see it again on the big screen," said Paul Dergarabedian, a box office analyst for Hollywood.com. "People are still going to want to go and see this movie the way it was meant to be seen."


wow! An inkling of real objective thought on the matter, from a main "stream media" source :shock:

http://screenrant.com/wolverine-movie-l ... simm-6515/

Yes… I Said Stolen

If you go to the trouble of hunting down what you know is an illegal copy of the film, you knowingly stole it. And don’t tell me you didn’t know. To add insult to thievery, some of you were stupid enough to brag about it on various social networking sites. Good for you! Now at least if Fox and the FBI decide to pursue this legal issue to that level, you’ve made it very easy for them to find you. Even if you didn’t brag about it, you left a digital trail to the torrent files and subsequent activity is clear as day to the packet sniffers.

As it stands, the copy of the film that made its way online did not have the majority of its visual effects complete, had missing scenes and a temporary audio/music track. So I’m sure that made for an AWESOME viewing experience.


on nooooossss :tinfoilhat:
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby Psycho Ced » Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:48 am

on the eve of April Fools Day a workprint of X-Men Origins: Wolverine found its way to the internet and hundreds of thousands of downloads occurred before 20th Century Fox could stop it

Right! They've put a complete stop to it! It is absolutely impossible to download it now no matter how hard you look. Don't even bother trying!
Don't get me wrong, I'm not agreeing with this release but acting like the MPAA was able stop this is nonsense.
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby Paladwyn » Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:14 pm

"May contain a virus"

Hehehe...may as well add Child Porn into it as well, oh and could contain Melamine! Downloading it also supports terrorists and drug dealers too. Oh don't forget, for every download...the fat guy across the street will eat a baby!
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby king8654 » Sun Apr 05, 2009 2:46 pm

So after watching the workprint three times, i'm totally going to see the movie in theaters, cause it fckin rocks. This only proves the fact that if you make good movies, people will go to see them. American gangster included with its pre-dvdscr, and still rockin box office intakes. Wolverine will still do amazing in the theaters, probably close to that of spiderman, because of the crazy hype and just awesomeness. The special effects were still awesome in the workprint, and actually IMO didnt take anything away from the movie. Big bangs and explosions are a dime a dozen, and it almost made the movie cooler to see the "behind the scenes" take on some of the scenes.

But as in all prereleases, the industry will go after us "pirates" who steal their money and plunder their wives. But, release groups dont walk into fckin fox and take it off a desk. The very people who are taking part in making the movie are the people releasing to the groups, so give them the shit, cause were only the middlemen. Overall though. awesome movie. :)

edit: forgot my aluminum foil dunce cap, for when fox hunts me down. :tinfoilhat: :tinfoilhat: :tinfoilhat:
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby Fartingbob » Sun Apr 05, 2009 5:17 pm

king8654 wrote:Wolverine will still do amazing in the theaters, probably close to that of spiderman, because of the crazy hype and just awesomeness.

I dont see it doing quite as well as spiderman, maybe as good opening as the other x-men movies then fading faster. Spin-offs tend to have big openings and then fade fast, like sequels (spiderman 3 etc). It certainly doesn't have the online buzz of Watchmen or Dark knight, Although there certainly isnt as many big summer releases as the last 4-5 years, so it might do better than expected in the long run.
Its a good film from what i saw of the workprint, i'll certainly go see it at the cinema, but then i most likely would have anyway.
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby Bidonet » Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:47 pm

If a prerelease is available on BitTorrent, it will only make me download it sooner. Otherwise, I will wait until a decent version is available to download it. As a result, there is no impact on the revenue of the movie because of the prerelease. In fact, this could even increase revenue because people like me who are watching the prereleased movie, if the movie is great, can encourage other people to go and watch the movie in theatre when it is released.
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby Paladwyn » Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:06 pm

But you know damn well they don't think that way, they see it as...for every time you watch the download, it is a time that you won't be going to the theatre to see it.

Most people who go see a movie in the theatre, only go see it once...and frankly, if you downloaded the movie and choose not to go to the theatre to watch it, you were undecided already, and most likely wouldn't have gone anyways.
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby kow626 » Tue Apr 07, 2009 4:42 am

add 'i am legend' 2 da mix. dat was a pretty big deal 2.
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby Xsoldier2000 » Tue Apr 07, 2009 11:26 am

Grabbed it, heard it wasn't completed yet (no effects, missing scenes...etc.) Deleted it.

I'm SO excited to see this movie that I want to watch it in ALL it's glory...but I sure won't be going to the theater to see it. Last time I went to the theater was when Dark Knight came out and it was PACKED.
I had to listen to someone EXPLAINING every scene to their friend throughout the movie. Do you know how aggravating it is to listen to one teenage girl TRY to explain to another teenage girl why The Joker hates Batman? :banghead: ARRRGGHHH!

Never again.

I'll wait until a proper rip comes out.

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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby Paladwyn » Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:25 pm

Hahaha...that would be aggrivating :D

Yeah, when I watcha movie, I like the immerse myself into it...the less distractions the better.

Unless it's one I don't like.
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby ntscuser » Tue Apr 07, 2009 7:52 pm

If it's a title I desperately care about, I'll wait for the DVD rip, preferably a DVD9. If it's something I'm not sure I even want to see I might watch the screener, but that doesn't happen very often. In the case of "There Will Be Blood" I was so impressed by the screener, I interrupted my viewing session and decided to wait for the DVD rip instead.
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby apw100 » Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:30 am

Was nobody around in '99?! What about the biggest pre-release of them all, the one that first got the industry's attention? That would be Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby Fartingbob » Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:23 am

EP3 was a bigger prerelease simply because there were far more file sharers at the time and the workprint was pretty viewable, not shitty CAM quality that every release was back in '99.
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby SlyckTom » Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:38 am

apw100 wrote:Was nobody around in '99?! What about the biggest pre-release of them all, the one that first got the industry's attention? That would be Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.


I don't remember that event and details around the net are very scarce. Does anyone else remember this happening or recall any details about the quality of the release?
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby Paladwyn » Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:41 am

I know my friend bought a cammed version of Phantom Menace off eBay for like 5 bucks. It was in such horrible condition and I refused to watch it until I saw it in the theaters.
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby shevaberg » Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:09 pm

SlyckTom wrote:
apw100 wrote:Was nobody around in '99?! What about the biggest pre-release of them all, the one that first got the industry's attention? That would be Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.


I don't remember that event and details around the net are very scarce. Does anyone else remember this happening or recall any details about the quality of the release?


It was a shitty cam release... the only thing it preveneted you from seing how bad the movie really was
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Re: Epic Prereleases

Postby ntscuser » Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:52 pm

Even when a movie has long since finished its cinema run, studios continue to find excuses not to release to retail video for many months afterwards and then complain when people grab the cam or screener instead :pissedoff:
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