Posted on Thursday, May 7th, 2009 by Peter Sciretta
20th Century Fox has released the final download number for the leaked workprint version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and according to THR it turns out to be four times greater than previous estimates. Wolverine has been downloaded an estimated 4 million times according to Fox. But truth be told, Wolverine wasn’t even the top downloaded movie on the internet the week after it hit torrent sites.
With last year’s average ticket price of $7.18, this equates to $28.7 million dollars! But did Fox really lose $29 million dollars due to piracy? The film made a whopping $85 million in its opening weekend, but Fox believes it could have cracked the $100 million mark if it weren’t for the leaked workprint. I call bullshit.
First of all, many of the people who downloaded the workprint weren’t planning on seeing the movie anyways. They downloaded the film because it was available. Many others actually downloaded the film and paid for a ticket to see the finished version on the big screen.
And let’s not forget the group of people that just don’t see films in theaters anymore. I call them the downloaders. They just wait until a copy of the film hits the torrent sites on opening weekend (usually a “cam” copy). That audience never planned to buy a ticket in the first place. And while you might be able to blame piracy for the loss of potential ticket sales from that crowd, you certainly can’t blame the leaked workprint.
So how much did the leak of the film affect the box office? Who knows. Other could argue that the leak provided an extra storm of publicity in worldwide news publications and television shows. It may have created word of mouth buzz from those who did download the movie. The leak could have accounted for more people seeing the film on the big screen than otherwise would have. Of course, I don’t have any facts or figures to support this theory.
But the bottom line is, it isn’t likely that the leaked workprint cost Fox $29 million in ticket sales. I’d love to see a study that would zero in on a more logical number.