Unfortunately, this isn't an April Fool's Day joke: A full print of the upcoming superhero flick "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" has appeared online. (We won't say where — if you're savvy, we're sure you can find it.)
Worse, we're not talking the sort of blurry, cellphone-quality bootleg normally associated with leaked movies. Drew McWeeny over at HitFix describes it as "a near-finished DVD quality rip, marred only by a few unfinished FX shots." Other commenters who viewed the leaked movie said the CGI was either unfinished or totally absent.
That's bad news for 20th Century Fox, which is hoping "Wolverine" can resurrect its "X-Men" franchise after a relatively disappointing showing by "X-Men: The Last Stand." No matter how unfinished, leaked films hurt box office both directly (obviously, someone who's seen the movie for free may not pay ten bucks for a ticket at the theater) and indirectly (those who see it aren't seeing a theatrical cut, so their word of mouth may prevent others from buying tickets).
Don't expect Fox's lawyers to win this round, either. It's one thing to ask a site to take down leaked clips; it's another to try and fight against the evolving slipperiness of the torrent communities. Just ask all those video-game developers whose pirated products have been played free for years.
Before you go rushing off to HitFix (or Ain't It Cool News or CinemaBlend or the movie news site of your choice), be warned: While the sites themselves are taking a strong stance against leaking details, commenters in several places aren't being nearly as restrained. Spoilers do abound.
What do you think? Will this hurt the franchise? Can the studio do anything to prevent future leaks?