As "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" gets ready to take over the box office this weekend, some fans have already seen footage from the film thanks to an illegal online leak.
"Everyone can understand the shock that you would have if something you were working on that you care about is stolen from you before it's finished. Nobody wants that," Hugh told Shaun.
As both star and producer of 20th Century Fox's big budget summer tent pole film, and his fourth time portraying the popular mutant from the "X-Men" franchise on the big screen, word of the act of piracy was anything but pleasant news for Hugh.
"I woke up to I wanna say 30 e-mails to see that it happened. They'd already been fighting it all night. The FBI and the studios had been fighting it and shutting it down," the Aussie actor explained. "The first thought that came into my head was for those people who were still working so hard — and I'd just been with the day before — not sleeping to finish the movie. "
This wasn't the first time versions of Hollywood movies have made it onto the net before their official release dates. Both "Hostel: Part II" and Rob Zombie's 2007 reboot of "Halloween" appeared online shortly before hitting theaters.
Studios blamed the bootlegged availability of the films for lower than expected box office returns.
Most notably, Ang Lee's 2003 "The Hulk" was the victim of an early work print leak that did not include finished special effects, which not only can be crucial to a big summer film in the comic book genre, but generate unwarranted negative buzz before release. An unfortunate situation Hugh now found his film in the middle of.
"It's like an invasion. It's shocking," he added.
"And then there was the support from the online community. I'm not talking here as someone from 'Wolverine" or from 'X-Men,' but someone in the film business. There was unbelievable support from the beginning. There was condemnation of the act," a relieved Hugh said.
Numerous Web sites that typically cover genre films like "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" refused to post reviews or even blogs regarding the pirated film, despite the thousands of downloads of the print already accounted for that lacked the majority of the visual effects and ran 10 minutes shorter than the final version.
There was a zero tolerance policy in some camps regarding the leaked material, even if it generated good buzz. Fox News parted ways with entertainment columnist Roger Friedman after he admitted to downloading, watching, and then posting a positive review of the work print on his Fox 411 online site.
"I wasn't sure if the online community would be going 'Ah, you know. It's the way things are going man and you gotta get with the times.' They weren't. They were like 'This is wrong. This is gonna ruin the film business, and this is gonna ruin the thing we love to do the most, which is go to the movies and watch it on the big screen," Hugh said. "That's what kind of kept me through that period is I know that fans of this movie are gonna want to, to have that experience."
"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" opens May 1.
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