02 April 2009

"Wolverine" Leaks Online - what does it mean?

As many of you have undoubtedly heard, the upcoming film, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" film was leaked to the internet late Tuesday night. For some, it's viewed as "karma's a bitch" towards Fox for their fight against the release of "Watchmen' (though I haven't seen it, from what I've heard, it wasn't worth the fight - especially when you look at the 70% drop in revenue from week 1 to two).

For me, it's another nail in the coffin of traditional distribution methods. I'm not by any means condoning such an action. Films should only be released when the filmmakers are ready, and if "fans" are pissed about the wait, it's their problem. We owe it to the filmmakers to give them the time to churn out a quality product (even if that's not necessarily the intent).

My feature documentary, "Gather 'Round the Mic," brought up a unique dilemma (at least to me). Much of the cast is international, and when you have 15 musicians who want to see it, postage can get a tad expensive. I knew from past experience that an online release is an excellent marketing tool - there's no better marketing tool than a finished product.

However, the traditional outlets of distribution (begging at the feet of film festival screeners, networking like a madman around people you don't like, and the ever-increasing demand for "world premieres") are less than copacetic to the online release. Which is a shame.

As I said in the synopsis of "Gather," it's not a concert film. It's a unique look at how music and entertainment are made in an age where the traditional methods of distribution and "the deal" are relegated to antiquity by the immediacy of the internet and the drive of passionate people.

So, I decided to put it online for a limited time. Two weeks. Gatherers were happy, and I was too. It was a huge relief to have it seen, and to hear feedback (so far all good).

What does "Wolverine" have to do with this? Simple. We'll see what the online leak spells for box office (I don't think it will have much of an effect), but what I'm advocating is that filmmakers take control of the unique immediacy offered by the internet to stream their films for a little online release. If traditional distribution methods can't catch up, it's their problem, not mine.

As a former musician, and lifetime lover of music, I find that there's one thing I admire (envy?) musicians for over filmmakers - the immediacy of their art form. Three minutes, upload, feedback, done.

Film's a different animal, but I do think we're seeing a convergence of the immediacy factor. I hope it continues, and I'd encourage all filmmakers to figure out creative ways to use the internet for good, not evil.

Couldn't resist a little Thundercats humor.


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