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April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates" 
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Post April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
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Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:44 pm
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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
Great reelthoughts. I have friends who download movies all the time - of course I would browse through and watch them, but never downloaded any myself. Not an attempt to justify watching illegally downloaded movies, but I still watched all of them in theatres. Some of my friends have seen Wolverine already, but I'd run out of the room when they'd mention it because I'm waiting for opening day!


Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:02 pm
Gaffer

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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
One area this sort of thing is huge is in anime from Japan. It could take years if not a decade or more for studios in Japan to put their anime on a DVD set for the USA region. That has sparked numerous 'do it yourself' people who upload copies (or make their own DVDs) with near professional quality sub-titles.

You would think that studios would have a pay service (iTunes, Zune, whatever...) to watch the video within a few weeks of release for a minimal fee. Netflix would be all over that for their instant watch service. So many ways to make a buck or two if some effort was just put forth.


Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:30 pm
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Second Unit Director

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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
JB hit the nail on the head here. The sheer stupidity of Mr. Friedman boggles the mind. Here's a film reviewer that not only views an illegal download of an unfinished product, but then, incredibly, reviews it in his column. In reply to the criticism, his only defense was that he gave the bootlegged version a good review! As if that has any relevance at all. I hope he enjoys his new job, wherever it is.


Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:32 pm
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Gaffer

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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
At a party at my friend's house last night, one of the attractions of the event was the screening of the Wolvie bootleg. I finished the "film," but I vowed to watch the full version when it comes out in theaters, because the incompleteness of the movie made it into a comedy akin to Plan 9 From Outer Space. From unedited wires on Liev Schrieber's back to invisible pistol special effects and matte, storyboard-like CG, much of the movie was a laugh trip that sort of made me forget what I was watching.


Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:11 pm
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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
As an avid Berardinelli reader and an anarchist, I must say that calling people like me a 'nutjob' is not really a classy move on his part, but I agreed with everything else he said. Much like it's been proven that music sharing actually helps sales of discs, there's no doubt in my mind that movie sharing helps sales of movie tickets and DVDs. Corporations oppose sharing because they want to keep control of distribution, regardless of the relatively small positive effect on profits. It's just the result of the very hierarchical, neoliberalist thinking that has dominated our economies for the past 70 years, in which the individual must be told what to think and what to buy because he is not able to govern himself properly.

As for what Friedman did, it's just unprofessional for a movie reviewer to base his review on a pirated copy. You're supposed to watch the actual movie, the one that we're all gonna see on disc or in the theater, not an inaccurate copy. That being said, I don't think it really deserves a firing, but at least a public apology and a new review.


Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:58 am
Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
Great article James. This is one of my favourite Reelthoughts in quite some time. A few of the points echo what's being discussed in the Piracy thread in the forums.


Sat Apr 11, 2009 10:53 am
Gaffer

Joined: Sat Apr 11, 2009 1:57 pm
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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
I agree with many of the points which James brings up regarding piracy (I recall several past ReelThoughts which have talked about this subject). It's definitely a topic which merits discussion, so I wanted to try and play the role of the devil's advocate (i.e. downloading is not right, etc.). Here are some counterarguments I came up with:

- If studios were to institute "controlled" leaks, what would constitute any uncontrolled leaks (i.e. non-studio sanctioned)? If the mentality of the general public is that "copying is ok", would anyone see the difference between a "legal" and an "illegal" leak?

- If, as a studio, I could prove that one person who downloaded the movie was: a) someone who intended to pay money and see it, AND b) ended up downloading it resulting in a loss of a single ticket sale, is it unfair for me to brand it as "lost revenue"? To the argument that leaks generate buzz, it is impossible to ascertain the real difference in revenue that results in the case of "Was not going to see it, downloaded, decided to go see it"; consequently, as a business, it would be a bad business decision to go on unreliable, anecdotal evidence.

- Finally, there are going to be fans who want to save themselves for the experience of seeing it in the theater. They DON'T want to have to avoid forums because some overzealous members downloaded a screener copy and starts blabbing spoilers in the subject of a message. Yes, these people would be jerks and they can ruin the experience for lots of people out there. As a studio, anticipation fuels my ability to market the product; potential leaks can damage that. How could that be good business? (As an example, imagine if people blurted out major spoilers on The Sixth Sense or, goodness forbid, the new Star Trek movie? What would the fan reaction be?)

Hoping for some more insight into the subject - cheers!


Sat Apr 11, 2009 2:11 pm
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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
Francois Tremblay wrote:
As an avid Berardinelli reader and an anarchist, I must say that calling people like me a 'nutjob' is not really a classy move on his part


If you read carefully, you'll see that I don't call anyone in particular a "nutjob." Full quote: "These aren't isolated opinions held only by a fringe group of nutjob anarchists."

I don't even call all anarchists "nutjobs."


Sat Apr 11, 2009 6:02 pm
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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
Well, I count myself as having radically anti-IP positions, so...


Sat Apr 11, 2009 10:41 pm
Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
On the need to see something now, without waiting...

I don't understand people watching poor quality versions on their home computers instead of waiting a few weeks to see the movie in a theater either. In fact I don't understand people watching movies on a computer screen at all.

The same isn't true of TV series, however. I live in Europe and naturally don't have the chance to watch the latest episode of an American series I'm following the same time it airs in the U.S. Yet, even if I didn't want to read and participate on forum discussions that revolve around a given series (which I do), people still might mention something revealing as a throwaway line on a completely unrelated topic, the image boards might be bombarded with spoiler images, a link on the IMDB front page to an article discussing a "controversial ending" might give too much away simply by its headline and so on...

I realized a key event in the first season finale of Battlestar Galactica simply because out of the corner of my eye I spied a link to an article about Top 10 shocking seasonal cliffhangers and the short description mentioned the words "Galactica" and "Dallas" too close together... I was still half-way down the first season at the time.

Never again, I vowed.

And then I found out ahead of time the identity of a certain person in a certain coffin in a certain another TV series just because I stumbled across a certain image.

These days I don't wait. When a new episode airs, I download it within 1-3 days and watch it immediately. And if it's a particularly anticipated episode (like the final episode of Galactica) I don't browse the web at all until I've seen it.

Strictly speaking, this is illegal. There are two legal ways for me to watch a TV series here: either I order the season DVD once it comes out from Play.com or a similar service (the wait is still too long) or I wait until it airs here. The latter could be anything from 1 to 2 years. And during that time I would have to stay off the internet so as to not get spoiled about key plot points. This option isn't even worth considering. (For the record: I DO buy the season DVDs once they're out, for the higher quality viewing experience.)

Of course, this problem doesn't exist with movies. At least not with the major releases that tend to open on roughly the same date worldwide (something that's improved over time -- back in the day Episode I opened in August/September here, about 3 months later than the world premiere). As for smaller releases, it rarely matters because there's less people talking and posting spoilers.

But now with the Wolverine already out there chances are I'll stumble across a few spoilers whether I'll want to or not, most likely posted by trolls rather than people genuinely interested about discussing the movie. Still, the likelihood of this happening doesn't make me want to download the copy and watch it. It just annoys me.


Sun Apr 12, 2009 5:50 am
Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
ed_metal_head wrote:
Great article James. This is one of my favourite Reelthoughts in quite some time. A few of the points echo what's being discussed in the Piracy thread in the forums.

agreed 100%

i will add though, i think you missed one point. the people who watched it as a WIP, and for that reason too. the fascination of seeing an incomplete movie. the same as one seeing an incomplete painting. the finished product is beautiful, but there's something about seeing a WIP that's too exciting. i admit i havent seen this or any incomplete movie so i dont know if it will translate on to the screen. but if i do see a substandard movie, it would be for that reason. i too dont resonate with the fanatics who just love wolverine and can't wait 3 weeks. thats just odd.

the people i mention, i think you'll find some on this forum too. :)


Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:00 am
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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
aameen wrote:
ed_metal_head wrote:
i will add though, i think you missed one point. the people who watched it as a WIP, and for that reason too. the fascination of seeing an incomplete movie. the same as one seeing an incomplete painting. the finished product is beautiful, but there's something about seeing a WIP that's too exciting. i admit i havent seen this or any incomplete movie so i dont know if it will translate on to the screen. but if i do see a substandard movie, it would be for that reason. i too dont resonate with the fanatics who just love wolverine and can't wait 3 weeks. thats just odd.


In the draft of the ReelThoughts, I mentioned that perhaps Fox might consider including the pirated Work Print on the DVD release precisely because it would allow comparisons. (I deleted this from the final copy of the essay.)

I would never want to watch a work print BEFORE seeing the final version. Afterwards, there might be some fascination. The problem is, first impressions count for a lot with movies. If the first viewing is of something on the small screen with incomplete effects and missing scenes, you're never going to recover from that. It will taint the viewing of the final cut.

It's like seeing an actress without makeup. Later, when you see her at her best, you recognize she's gorgeous but you can't get the image out of your mind of how she looked earlier. You've peeked behind the curtain.


Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:28 am
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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
JB wrote:
I have never understood the need to see something NOW. Whatever happened to the delicious flavor of anticipation - of waiting until Christmas morning to open the presents? And why would anyone want their first view of a movie to be a mediocre copy on a computer screen with numerous unfinished special effects and 20 minutes of scenes missing?

It's probably not quite the same, but didn't you also read the Empire Strikes Back novelisation before you watched the actual film? Seeing as a huge part of the thrill of Star Wars are the special effects and actually seeing and hearing Darth Vader, the analogy sorta applies.


I agree with the rest of the ReelThoughts though.


Sun Apr 12, 2009 1:54 pm
Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
I generally agree with all the arguments, but I think that there is one aspect of potential impact that has not been dicussed. The success of many movies depends on repeat viewing. Does the existence of a downloaded copy significantly decrease likelihood that a person will go back to the movie theater to see the movie?


Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:42 am
Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
James Berardinelli wrote:
aameen wrote:
ed_metal_head wrote:
i will add though, i think you missed one point. the people who watched it as a WIP, and for that reason too. the fascination of seeing an incomplete movie. the same as one seeing an incomplete painting. the finished product is beautiful, but there's something about seeing a WIP that's too exciting. i admit i havent seen this or any incomplete movie so i dont know if it will translate on to the screen. but if i do see a substandard movie, it would be for that reason. i too dont resonate with the fanatics who just love wolverine and can't wait 3 weeks. thats just odd.


In the draft of the ReelThoughts, I mentioned that perhaps Fox might consider including the pirated Work Print on the DVD release precisely because it would allow comparisons. (I deleted this from the final copy of the essay.)

I would never want to watch a work print BEFORE seeing the final version. Afterwards, there might be some fascination. The problem is, first impressions count for a lot with movies. If the first viewing is of something on the small screen with incomplete effects and missing scenes, you're never going to recover from that. It will taint the viewing of the final cut.

It's like seeing an actress without makeup. Later, when you see her at her best, you recognize she's gorgeous but you can't get the image out of your mind of how she looked earlier. You've peeked behind the curtain.


Agreed 100%. I'd be curious to see it after. As an aside, ed_metal_head didn't write the things he's being quoted for!


Mon Apr 13, 2009 10:57 am
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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
cornflakes wrote:
It's probably not quite the same, but didn't you also read the Empire Strikes Back novelisation before you watched the actual film? Seeing as a huge part of the thrill of Star Wars are the special effects and actually seeing and hearing Darth Vader, the analogy sorta applies.


I didn't read the novelization before I saw the film, but I did know the secret. I can't remember how I found out in those pre-Internet days, but it leaked and I somehow found out. I suspect the leak was because of the novelization, which I believe arrived in stores shortly before the movie opened.


Mon Apr 13, 2009 2:07 pm
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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
Francois Tremblay wrote:
As an avid Berardinelli reader and an anarchist, I must say that calling people like me a 'nutjob' is not really a classy move on his part, but I agreed with everything else he said. Much like it's been proven that music sharing actually helps sales of discs, there's no doubt in my mind that movie sharing helps sales of movie tickets and DVDs. Corporations oppose sharing because they want to keep control of distribution, regardless of the relatively small positive effect on profits. It's just the result of the very hierarchical, neoliberalist thinking that has dominated our economies for the past 70 years, in which the individual must be told what to think and what to buy because he is not able to govern himself properly.
You don't have to be an anarchist to recognize that these issues are at work underneath the ongoing filesharing debate. There is the economical factor: does copyright ultimately put content producers at an advantage or a disadvantage? (Or is it neutral?) There is the creative dilemma: does copyright provide an extra incentive for creativity, as it purports to do? There is the ethical dilemma: is it right? Does it harm the content producer in some fashion that isn't monetary? And so on.

The troubling thing is, I haven't yet fully resolved my point of view on the subject, but the answers to most of these questions are not in the favor of copyright. Perhaps the question isn't "Can information be owned?" but "Should information be owned?"


Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:55 pm
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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
I've never heard of Roger Friedman before. Was he actually a decent critic?


Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:59 pm
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Post Re: April 10, 2009: "Wolverine Versus the Pirates"
Francois Tremblay wrote:
Corporations oppose sharing because they want to keep control of distribution, regardless of the relatively small positive effect on profits. It's just the result of the very hierarchical, neoliberalist thinking that has dominated our economies for the past 70 years, in which the individual must be told what to think and what to buy because he is not able to govern himself properly.


If you want to understand why companies like Fox are opposed to changes in IP laws in general and downloading specifically, I think you're reaching to suggest that Fox's motivations are rooted in some desire to tell the individual what to think (or even that their thinking is the result of socio-political group-think on the matter).

The more likely explanation is the simpler one, namely: most corporations in a position of delicate (and declining) power are anxious to hold onto the status quo (profits), and are reluctant to risk paradigm changes that might increase system-wide profits but risk their positions in the short run. Changing IP policies WILL change things, and even if Fox is wrong in their risk calculations, they're right to identify risk. Fear of change isn't always a problem of political or economic philosophy, it's one of human nature.

All said while agreeing that music and film downloads probably help the companies most opposed to them.


Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:06 am
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