In what initially looked to be an April Fool's Day prank, film distributor 20th Century Fox wasn't laughing when it learned its upcoming movie "X-Men: Origins: Wolverine" was viewed by thousands of people a month before the flick is scheduled to show on the big screen. While pirated movies showing up online isn't anything new, this particular leak is rare given that it hadn't even premiered yet.
"The source of the initial leak and any subsequent postings will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," 20th Century Fox said . "The courts have handed down significant criminal sentences for such acts in the past."
According to 20th Century Fox, both the FBI and MPAA are investigating the leak. Some estimates peg the illicit release as having been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times in its first 24 hours on the web. However, Eric Garland, chief executive of the file-sharing monitoring firm BigChampagne, said that online viewers would only account for a small percentage of the film's total audience.
Garland did also point out that bad word of mouth could be a concern. The copy that was leaked to the internet was missing many special effects and included temporary sound and music.