A few weeks ago, a copy of Eli Roth’s Hostel: Part II was leaked on to the internet. It was not a video taped copy, like you normally find on canal street or the torrent sites. It was an unfinished production screener missing some visual and sound effects (and may-be even a scene or two depending on who you read). But all in all, it was supposedly a very watchable copy of the film. But this was enough to cost the film an estimated $5 to $10 million at the box office.
And tonight I returned home from Sacramento, the state capital of California, where Michael Moore premiered Sicko in two separate screenings. One to politicians, the other to nurses. Even Michael told the crowd that this was one of the first public screenings of the film in the United States (the film was shown at Cannes a couple weeks back). And yet I returned home to find more than website claiming to have a complete version of Sicko. How could this be? Already? Yup. As it turns out, somehow a screener of Sicko has also been leaked online, weeks before it’s nationwide release on June 29th. This is the second Lionsgate film in the last month that has found its way onto the internet before being released. I’m not pointing fingers, but this is a huge problem.
But more interesting is Moore’s stance on the issue of downloading movies and copyright laws:
Well, I don’t agree with the copyright laws and I don’t have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it with people. As long they’re not doing it to make a profit off it, as long as they’re not, you know, trying to make a profit off my labor. I would oppose that. But um, you know I do quite well and I um…I don’t know, I make these books and movies and TV shows because I want things to change, so the more people that get to see them the better, and um, so I’m, I’m happy when that happens, OK? Should I not be happy I don’t know? It’s like if a friend of yours has the DVD of my movie, gave it to you to watch one night, is that person doing something wrong? I’m not seeing any money from that. But he’s just handing the DVD to you so that you can watch my movie. A DVD that he bought, but you’re not buying it, yet you’re watching it without paying me any money. See I think that’s OK, and it’s always been OK, we share things with people. And I think information and art, ideas should be shared.
I wonder if Moore regrets ever saying that?
The truth is that I hope Sicko does well. It deserves to beat Die Hard 4 and Ratatouille. I’ve seen the movie, and it’s the best movie of the year so far. It’s funny, emotional informative and moving. It’s everything that a great documentary should be. And I think many people will say this is Moore’s best film to date (although, I’d argue for Columbine). But the studio will not be able to contain the leaked film. There is no way this won’t hurt that film’s bottom line. And it’s a shame.