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Meltdown at Fox over Wolverine review
April 5, 2009 7:42 PM   Subscribe

Internal drama at Fox: longtime Hollywood columnist Roger Friedman fired - or not? - for posting a review on FoxNews.com of 20th Century Fox's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," which leaked onto the internets April 1. He apparently liked it. But Fox is freaking out about the leak, more than a month before the theatre premiere, and the FBI has conducted raids. Speculation about what happened here.
posted by CunningLinguist (45 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I downloaded it on the weekend and sat through the whole interminable thing for the Japanese bombing of Port Darwin - nothing!
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:58 PM on April 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hahahahahaha oh noes our shit movies r leked!
posted by Avenger at 7:58 PM on April 5, 2009


That raid was actually over telco fees.
posted by datacenter refugee at 7:58 PM on April 5, 2009


You know what's funny about this, is that I watched the workprint cut, am going to watch it again tonight, and thought it was awesome...so when I saw an article about some studio blowhard bloviating about what in insult it was to the production crew to watch it, I was thoroughly confused. His point was that this thing isn't done, it's not edited, the effects shots aren't done, and so watching it is a slap in the face to the people who worked so hard to make it, but that actually only makes me want to pay money to see it in the theater more. Essentially he was saying hey, you thought that was cool, wait until you see the real deal, which I'm super excited for.

Not only that, but not being involved in Hollywood productions I've never seen a "workprint" of a film before, so I thought it was a really interesting perspective on the making of effects-heavy movies like this. All in all I think it's going to be a boon for the movie-- free publicity aside, the general awesomeness of the film as leaked, along with the promise that it's going to be significantly better when finished, should end up being a boon for Fox/Marvel.
posted by baphomet at 8:00 PM on April 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


The FBI raids apparently have nothing to do with the leaked movie. It even says so in the article you linked to, so I don't know why you're propagating this misinformation.

However, all on their own the FBI raids seem particularly heavy-handed, but typically FBI.
posted by loquacious at 8:01 PM on April 5, 2009


If you can, see the unfinished version. The fact that the effects aren't complete makes the movie more enjoyable if anything. The fact that Fox is livid over its release is the icing on the cake.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:02 PM on April 5, 2009


A movie like this is most likely only hurt by a leak if the movie ends up sucking. I mean, the kind of people who would go to the trouble to download Wolverine are the kind of people who would see it over and over if they liked it -- or would see it at least once on opening weekend because their friends were going and because they want to see it on the big screen (especially if the version they downloaded wasn't finished). I'm not at all endorsing the leak, I'm just skeptical that it will affect the film's business if the film is worth watching.

(In case you're wondering: I didn't download it in large part because I know I'll probably have to see it opening weekend whether I want to or not, for peer pressure reasons, and if it sucks I certainly don't want to have to sit through it twice. Also, my internets are very very very very slow AND ILLEGAL DOWNLOADING IS TOTALLY WRONG MAN)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:08 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know why you're propagating this misinformation.

Gosh, you make it sound so .....sinister. Sorry, just saw lots of references to FBI raids about the movie and didn't double check.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:12 PM on April 5, 2009


I'll be fascinated to find out where the leak came from-- working in the VFX business, the rumor mill was pretty sure it wasn't Rising Sun, as there would be absolutely no reason for them to have a complete copy of the workprint on hand. VFX houses tend to only get scripts, temp audio, reference assets, and the shots in the sequences they work on, as well as any assets that are shared with another facility working on the same shots.

I worked on something late last year that was so uber-security-minded that we didn't even have temp audio, or a script-- just our shots and ones we shared with another facility, here you go, knock yourselves out. I cannot imagine that a similarly huge, popular property like Wolverine had folks on board who thought they could eschew similar measures in dealing with their VFX contractors.

That leaves a lot of other places who could conceivably have cobbled together a workprint, but tends to point to internal-to-the-studio or the production, if you ask me.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:39 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll be very interested to see if they do find where the leak came from - a lot of the time rough edits of a film will be sent around to the different companies that are working on it, but they are usually watermarked so that the copy will be linked to the recipient. Since they haven't charged anyone yet, there must not have been a watermark. Or there was, and they're gathering proof. Mystery!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:42 PM on April 5, 2009


Gosh, you make it sound so .....sinister.

Don't try to play innocent. We know what you're up to, CunningLinguist. We might have been willing to believe it was all an innocent misunderstanding under different circumstances, but your username has betrayed you.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:42 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


tends to point to internal-to-the-studio or the production

that's what I was thinking!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:45 PM on April 5, 2009


5_13_23_42_69_666, some of the shots were tagged from RSP, but not all-- so there's no real way to pin it to them. A lot of the leaked copy apparently lacks watermarks, and some of it, per one viewer in this CNN article, looks "like a 12-year-old video game"-- ie, it was previz.

I'm thinking that copy has to be three to five months old, probably, if it was still mostly screens, wires, and previz with temp audio.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:46 PM on April 5, 2009


bloviating

The Bloviator is one of the approximately three hundred mutants who make a two second cameo in this film, to appeal to the fans. His origin, for those unfamiliar with this new fifth-tier villain:

"Once, he was just an ordinary MPAA/RIAA Lawyer...until that dreadful morning when, as an anniversary gift to his wife, he took her up for a champagne breakfast in a hot air balloon. But something went wrong. Something nobody would ever have expected. A freak gust of wind and the throat of the balloon became wedged in his fundament. Emergency personnel rushed to save him as the pungent gas gradually transfused from the balloon to the man, but it was already too late...

"Now, five years later - his wife having very quickly remarried and carried on with her life, they moved to Prague or something, the kids don't remember him and she's doing very well as a piano teacher - he, filled with vengeance and greed, bounces softly through the night, hovering far enough off the ground to peek in through your second storey window and see if you're downloading stuff from the internet. And pity those who he catches in the act, for they are only discovered days, sometimes weeks later, char-broiled in a sweaty, boring furnace of inscrutable language, logical inconsistencies, corporate patsying and total ethical deficit; modems ripped from the wall and mysteriously vanished, presumably swallowed whole; entire MP3 collections, even ones you legitimately ripped from CDs you already owned, with their ID3 tags mass search-and-replaced by 'LOL I TROLLED JOO! - BlOvIaToR pHaNtAsY >9000 (mad propz to Necrom)', so now it's going to take fucking weeks to get that all sorted out again. That fucking guy. God!"
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:52 PM on April 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


Some VFX companies will submit in-progress versions of shots with a company logo and a frame counter, so I figured that was why there was an RSP watermark on some shots. I haven't seen it, so I'm just guessing here. I had a feeling that this sort of thing would happen soon. Which sucks, because it probably means that all of us working in film are going to have to go through a lot more security procedures to get our working materials. ( Like after one jerk tries to build a shoebomb, now everybody has to take their shoes off to board a plane. thanks asshole!)
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:54 PM on April 5, 2009


Yeah, I'd figured RSP was submitting WIP to be dropped into the cut-- thus the watermarks-- and not final composites for digital intermediate. (For those of you not in 5 and I's line of work, digital intermediate is the new-school version of what used to be called "color timing," getting all the shots to look consistent in terms of color and embellishing specific sections of shots. The first big DI project most folks have seen was Band of Brothers, although your average ep of CSI: Miami employs DI to violate reality in eye-searing ways every week. The end result of the process is a full digital copy of the final film that can be used to strike prints. DI colorists are insanely well-paid, rockstar sorts of individuals in our business, and none of them would risk their rep on a leak.)

I haven't seen the leak, so don't know if those RSP shots are the previz segments or what.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:01 PM on April 5, 2009


The whole thing just seems like plaintive cries of "HOW DARE ANYONE DRIVE UP DEMAND FOR OUR PRODUCT!!!!!!!!" to me. Idiots. It'll make a freaking fortune, of course. Possibly up there with Batman Begins. But ... will the studios recant any of their hostility to "piracy"???? STAY TUNED!!!!
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:21 PM on April 5, 2009


it's pretty corny so far.. anyone see the credit sequence?..it made me think of boondock saints, the worst fucking movie in the last 100 years
posted by ChickenringNYC at 9:26 PM on April 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


ok.. sped through the rest. this thing is a total stinker. it will probably rake in millions.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 9:35 PM on April 5, 2009


boondock saints, the worst fucking movie in the last 100 years

I would like to think there is some way we could be friends, but really, I'm just not sure...
posted by adamdschneider at 9:37 PM on April 5, 2009 [13 favorites]


So, wait, was Friedman's crime that he downloaded the movie or that he actually liked it?
posted by Sangermaine at 9:43 PM on April 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


An industry pencil's take on the matter.

(Some of this seems like it might be at odds with what some of 5_13 and fairytale are saying, so I'm not endorsing it or anything, just putting it out there.)
posted by hifiparasol at 12:35 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


no, actually, that article is realistic - it's not that the material isn't out there to be leaked - it's just that most people have the sense of self-preservation to not actually leak it... mmmm, I could be cool and release this to the internet, or I could have a career...
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:12 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


also - is it just me, or does it look like wolverine's got wood in hifiparasol's link?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:14 AM on April 6, 2009


We need to make LOLlawyers with captions saying "Streisand Effect'd"
posted by oonh at 5:42 AM on April 6, 2009


The whole thing just seems like plaintive cries of "HOW DARE ANYONE DRIVE UP DEMAND FOR OUR PRODUCT!!!!!!!!" to me. Idiots. It'll make a freaking fortune, of course. Possibly up there with Batman Begins.

Well, the problem is, for this to actually drive up demand for their product, it would have to be good, and it's not. Instead there has been an almost universal drubbing of the movie. The best anyone can say about it is that it is about as good as X3.
posted by graventy at 6:14 AM on April 6, 2009


Conspiracy theory here. They leaked it themselves to create a buzz. Fox gets to run a piece on how it was leaked, a couple people watch it and say it rules. People who were 50/50 on seeing it say "hey that settles it! I'm seeing it when it comes out." All the fan boys say "Hey I can't wait until the special effects are done. That one scene looked bad ass!" Obviously most of the people who would download it anyways were going to be fan boys that knew where to look for it and planned on forking over the cash opening night to see it anyways. Fox didn't lose any more money than they normally do through torrents and such because of this leak. In fact don't be surprised if stuff like this doesn't happen all the time if this movie makes a ton of cash.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:26 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


for this to actually drive up demand for their product, it would have to be good, and it's not. Instead there has been an almost universal drubbing of the movie.

That's odd. I guess I don't know what that word means ("universal") because all I've come across have been gushing reviews. But then, to paraphrase a certain American poet, this is the internet--it contains multitudes.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:40 AM on April 6, 2009


I bet $1,000,0000* this is intentional maneuvering on Fox's part to build buzz. There is not the tiniest sliver of doubt in my mind. The workprint is not going to keep one single paying ass out of one single seat. Not one. But it will keep the film in the public's eye for several additional, ever-precious, thought cycles.

Hell, talking about it, even in this context, makes me a bit more likely to go see it, and I'm the kind of geeky man-child this kind of garbage is made for.

Or what the Master said.

* Offer void on planet Earth.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:15 AM on April 6, 2009


Another conspiracy take: Fox manufactured this whole brouhaha to make their case in Berman's piracy hearing today.
posted by caddis at 8:13 AM on April 6, 2009


The workprint is not going to keep one single paying ass out of one single seat. Not one.

Yep.

And if it does turn out to have been intentionally leaked (not that we will ever know...) it's actually a pretty brilliant move. Kind of like how they will sometimes release behind the scene clips before the movie comes out, only taken to a whole new level.

The only people who will be willing to watch a non-VFX version of a movie like this are going to be the hard-core fans who will pay to see it anyway. If the non-effect stuff like the plot and acting are solid, there is no real down-side for the studio. If it's good, people will talk about it, if it's bad, the studio can say "Well of course, it's not finished yet."

Plus, it gives movie geeks a look behind the scenes and how the process is done.

I'm going to wait to see the movie in the theater, because I want to get what the director was trying to do with the full effects and everything first. But if I like it, I can totally see trying to get a copy of the leaked version just to see the nuts and bolts under the hood.
posted by quin at 8:53 AM on April 6, 2009


from hifiparasol's link An industry pencil's take on the matter:

While studios bend over backwards to police film critics at press screenings (I've become used to security guards with night vision lenses staring at me while I'm watching a movie),

I'd love to see a few big name film critics coordinate and all put out the same article:
"we would love to tell you about the movie, but we were treated like criminals when all we wanted was promote their product. We were so distracted by the security guards with night vision lenses staring at us that we have no idea what the movie is about. Unless you like to be treated like a common criminal too, we suggest you stay away from this movie"
posted by DreamerFi at 9:33 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Torrentfreak says the movie has been downloaded 1 million times already.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:02 PM on April 6, 2009


boondock saints, the worst fucking movie in the last 100 years

I don't know about worst, but it's pretty fucking bad.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:04 PM on April 6, 2009


I bet $1,000,0000* this is intentional maneuvering on Fox's part to build buzz.
* Offer void on planet Earth.

I think it's time to make a phone call to the ISS....
posted by JHarris at 1:15 PM on April 6, 2009


Snikt bub bub snikt bub snikt snikt snikt bub snikt snikt bub bub bub snikt bub bub snikt snikt bub snikt bub bub.
posted by homunculus at 2:12 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


boondock saints, the worst fucking movie in the last 100 years

"Hi there! I'm Wes Anderson and this is my friend Miranda July, and we'd like to introduce you to a couple of little films we like to call The Life Aquatic and You And Me And Everyone We Know. They'll be shown back to back without an intermission - lock the doors, please? - but there are five lucky people here tonight who will find straight razors at the bottom of their popcorn buckets, so you know what to do!"

(Boondock Saints was pretty ripe, though.)
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:29 PM on April 6, 2009


The Life Aquatic, now? What...I mean...

It's like I don't even know you people.
posted by adamdschneider at 4:42 PM on April 6, 2009


It's like I don't even know you people.

Woah there. Please don't punish the rest of us, or, uh, me, for the ravings of one lone nutroll. I personally think Life Aquatic is outstanding - Rushmore is the only Anderson movie that is better and not by much. You and Me and Blah Blah Blah is probably awful though. The trailers sure weren't flattering.

Have we gotten far enough off topic yet?
posted by dirtdirt at 5:36 PM on April 6, 2009


Certainly, as Faraci says in that CHUD article, there's piracy. I've heard some pretty interesting stuff from an old housemate whose pal worked DVD piracy investigation. If you ever find a bootleg DVD of Shrek 2 with a 5.1 Dolby German audio track, it's a keeper. Apparently, they never had a German audio track for Shrek 2 at all, and someone opted to personally fill that market gap.

Like 5 says, though, most of us prefer to keep our jobs. The facility I work at doesn't even let you plug your laptop into the corporate network without a lot of signed paperwork from you, your boss, and your boss's boss-- we have a completely separate wifi network for your Pandora and YouTube workday needs. Ethernet is for folks who can prove they have to have it to get shit done. ("Coffee is for closers.")

Eventually, maybe we'll also have machines with their USB (and FW) ports cemented shut, like the Pentagon machines mentioned in the China thread the other day. That won't stop other potential leaks in the chain, though-- a lot of stuff gets moved around Los Angeles all day long by new college grads in their cars, Thomas Guides at the ready, Pelican cases full of FireWire drives of assets in the passenger seat. I'm not saying runners steal this stuff-- I've never heard of a case of it-- but it's certainly one example that proves the system is only as good as the people we trust with the data.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:12 PM on April 6, 2009


It's Official: Roger Friedman Loses His Job Over Wolverine Piracy
posted by mlis at 8:49 PM on April 6, 2009


There's a good lesson to be learned from this: never admit to pirating a movie created by the company that also employs you.

Even his glowing review couldn't save him.
posted by graventy at 9:17 PM on April 6, 2009


The movie's already available in dvd quality at my local shop in China....
posted by msbrauer at 6:46 AM on April 7, 2009


There are really two kinds of dumb movies: ones where you don't notice the plot holes until you're out in the parking lot afterwards, and ones where you can't concentrate on the explosions because you're sitting there saying "WTF" to yourself over and over. Wolverine is the second kind.
posted by homunculus at 12:34 PM on May 2, 2009


Why Having Wolverine's Claws Would Suck
posted by homunculus at 12:35 PM on May 2, 2009


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