Some days I think about setting up a Twitter account just to reveal my worst thoughts, or sickest jokes, but then I realize I would probably tell someone about it, and ruin it all.
WOLVERINE AND THE PIRACY DEBATE (PART 1)
The big news of the week is that Wolverine leaked. If you follow the twitter, if you participate in the twitter, you may have watched an Internet squabble between some Internet writers over whether the story should or shouldn’t be reported. I enjoyed it, (the squab) though Twitter is so ephemeral if you weren’t following it real time, then there’s no point in retracing the steps.
I think the Internet should talk about piracy in the sense that it is part of the Internet and its labyrinthine underground. Much like the sites which feature adult content, it’s one of the draws of having DSL, etc. for a number of people. Those wishing to justify their piracy end up sounding like Peter Gibbons and the world’s penny tray, but – unless you get a C&D letter or are the patient zero pirator – generally there are few consequences of indulging in it. The Internet is still in its wild-west phase when it comes to stuff like this.
But the way piracy tends to work is that at first there’s a cam-corder copy, and then a DVD copy sometime before it hits the rental market, and what Wolverine did was not only provide a workprint cut, but also one of rare quality. The academy sends out screeners for the Academy season, and many of those end up on line in one form or another, and arguments have been made about Taken, which was released in Europe well before its American release, and is now available on DVD in other regions. The big difference is that the target demo of a film like Wolverine is the audience who is most familiar with Bit Torrenting. The target demo of The Reader? Not so much.
You might have seen people like Edward Douglas arguing that people like Drew and Devin were writing about this story to incense people to bootleg stuff. This is problematic for a number of reason the first and foremost is the idea that most Internet movie site readers are inherently downloaders. The other big problem is that with something like this – though conspirasists might suggest otherwise – that though this is a big shitstain on Fox, now that it’s been wounded, the failure can’t get up the pipeline. Tom Rothman, the long reviled head of Fox will not take a hit if the film doesn’t do well at the box office. Why? Because now there’s an excuse. And if the film opens, it didn’t matter.
And frankly, only if the film opens will there be anything resembling a game-changer. Piracy has been a boogeyman of the industry for years and years, and though there have been a number of films that have shown up either right before or shortly after in DVD-quality transfers, there’s been nothing that feels as impactive as this. If the film does $65, if it does $55, if it does anything under whatever (often unrealistic) expectations are set, then it’s back to blaming the internet. And even if the film manages an $85 Million dollar opening, which would be beyond all expectations, some would argue it would have hit $100 if it weren’t for the piracy. The reason why the piracy is such an Achilles heel has nothing to do with the quality of Wolverine. The problem is that with the summer tentpoles, there is an untold but obvious truth: These films aren’t that good.
Sure, you’ve got your Wall*E’s and Dark Knight’s, your Knocked Up‘s, but the majority of summer films are like the rest of cinema: Hyped up nonsense. These are films not meant to stand the test of time, and are all about opening weekends. Does anyone still watch The Perfect Storm or The Patriot? Shrek 2 or The Day After Tomorrow? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Mr and Mrs. Smith? These are films that do huge business, but are mostly a con. At best three star films without great personal vision. If you go to the fair you might eat cotton candy. But cotton candy isn’t something most people want outside of that environment. There’s not a lot of greatness that goes into these sorts of films, because it’s about size, and size rarely translates to quality (even in films like Ben-Hur, etc.) though it does happen. These films don’t age well, but it doesn’t matter. But if people can see the film for free beforehand, and the verdict is even just “ehh, it’s okay,” the problem is that the steam gets taken out of the marketing, and the steam gets taken out of the summer tentpole effect, and the verdict is settled, and people feel like they’ve seen it, or ca wait to watch it at home. Because half the way these films work is by getting you in anticipation.
Yes, the truth can be revealed. Summer movies are secret fatties. They want you on the date. Because they know by the time you’re there, and the money you will expend, you might as well fuck them anyway.
SUMMER BEGINS… NOW
Fast and Furious opens today. Attempts to open pictures with summer-like qualities this early tend to backfire, but who’s to say. I expect the film to underperform, though I like Vin Diesel enough to hope it works. The picture to see is Adventureland, so go see, mother fuckers.
1. Fast and Furious - $38.7 Million
2. Monsters Vs. Aliens – $32 Million
3. Haunting Somewhere or Something - $11.5 Million
4. Adventureland - $9.7 Million
5. I Love You, Man - $8.2 Million
And then Sunday I’ll teabag you by putting my testes on your face.