Piracy and bootlegging is, obviously, a major problem for the film industry, as it has been since the invention of the VHS. But in a day and age when everyone and their mom knows how to torrent, and seemingly don’t mind watching terrible-quality DivXs shot on a constantly-shaking camera phone, it’s more prevalent than ever. The absolute nightmare scenario, however, would be a film leaking weeks ahead of its release, and in a relatively pristine copy ripped from a DVD. And that’s exactly what happened two years ago with “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” in the worst blow to hit 20th Century Fox’s superhero franchise since someone greenlit “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”
The mutant sequel was still a month away from release when a near-finished workprint, differing slightly from the final cut and missing a few effects, spread around the internet, allowing fans to be disappointed by the terrible film a full month in advance. It might not have seemed to have hurt the box office too much (the film took nearly $400 million worldwide, making it the third-biggest-grossing in the series), but Fox were out for blood, and 49-year-old Bronx resident Gilberto Sanchez was arrested by the FBI for having been the man who uploaded the workprint to the web. Causing the investigating officers to watch “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” probably didn’t put them in a better mood, to be honest.
It’s still unclear exactly how he obtained the copy (which must have been leaked/lost/stolen by or from someone working on the project), but we’re not sure it matters; Sanchez, who had a previous conviction for a similar crime, has been sentenced by United States District Judge Margaret M. Morrow to a year in federal prison. Although we suppose there’s a bright side to this; being in federal prison means there’s very little chance of Sanchez having to watch “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” again for a whole year.
This is clearly meant to set an example, although whether it has any luck at that is questionable; really, Fox should have looked at their own leaky ship as to how the print ended up on the outside, and there’s not a lot of sign of them doing that. The most depressing thing out of this whole story? “The Wolverine” hits theaters in 2013. [Deadline]