Happy New Year! Links for December 21st through January 1st:

  • My New Year Wish [Neil Gaiman's Journal:] – As New Years wishes go, I think Neil Gaiman wins this year: “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
  • Henchminion Sends In the Tale of “The Magna Carta Essay!” [College Misery] – In 2005 a frustrated US college professor wrote a fake essay about the Magna Carta – filled with notable errors, jokes and almost no substance – and posted it online to several notable paper mills and plagiarism websites. Six years later it’s still out there and still being quoted. A notable tale for would-be undergraduates cutting corners with their research and citation!
  • Marvel’s lawyers get into fanboy flamewar with IRS about human-status of its mutants [Boing Boing] – Marvel’s lawyers argue that the X-Men aren’t human for tax purposes. Of course, this undermines almost 50 years of the X-Men as repressed and misunderstood humanity. Looks like the lawyers are running Marvel!
  • Doctor Who Meets Star Wars Episode I – The Prequel Menace [Mashup] – Extremely silly, but made with so much love and affection that it’s well worth 6 minutes of your time! :)
  • ‘Doctor Who’ Tops ‘Modern Family’ as iTunes Best-Seller of 2011 [Anglophenia | BBC America] – “Never underestimate the power of Whovians. That loyal fan base has lifted Doctor Who to the very top of iTunes’ list of most downloaded full TV seasons of 2011! Yes, more than any other show on TV. Can I get a Woo-Who? That means Doctor Who beat ABC’s hit, Emmy-winning sitcom Modern Family (No. 2), Dexter (No. 3), Breaking Bad (No. 4), and True Blood (No. 5) in downloads. Just behind them at No. 6 is BBC America’s Top Gear. Here’s the full top 10 via The Hollywood Reporter:
    TOP-SELLING SEASONS:
    1. Doctor Who
    2. Modern Family
    3. Dexter
    4. Breaking Bad
    5. True Blood
    6. Top Gear
    7. Glee
    8. Entourage
    9. Archer
    10. The Walking Dead”
  • Company sues ex-employee for his Twitter followers [The Guardian] – “A Twitter user is being sued for £217,000 by his former employer for taking his online followers with him when he switched jobs. Noah Kravitz, a writer from Oakland, California, amassed 17,000 followers on the social networking site when he worked for PhoneDog, a website providing news and reviews about mobile phones. He posted Twitter messages under the name @Phonedog_Noah, but in October 2010 he left the company, renamed his account @noahkravitz and took his following with him. PhoneDog has launched legal proceedings seeking damages of $2.50 a month per follower for eight months, for a total of $340,000. The company is arguing that Kravitz’s list of followers constitutes a customer database and the valuation is an estimate of how much each follower is worth to the company.”
  • ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ Pirate Sentenced to One Year in Prison [ComicsAlliance] – “A man who’s confessed to uploading an early cut of X-Men Origins: Wolverine to the Internet a month before the film was to debut in cinemas has been sentenced to a year in federal prison. Deadline reports that 49-year-old Gilberto Sanchez pleaded guilty in March to one count of “uploading a copyrighted work being prepared for commercial distribution,” a charge which United States District Judge Margaret M. Morrow described as “extremely serious.” The early leaking of the DVD-quality workprint of Wolverine created quite a commotion back in 2009. The pirated cut was downloaded at least four million times, which according to Reuters could have translated to $28.7 million in lost ticket sales if the downloaders opted out of seeing Wolverine in the theater. Compounding fears, the leaked copy was missing final special effects shots and other material, and the advance spoiler-filled reviews were incredibly damning of the X-Men sequel, which cost $150 million to produce.”

wolvieposterstory2 So, in the wake of the much-discussed and widely downloaded leak of the Wolverine workprint,  the direct-to-DVD BSG prequel pilot Caprica has also found its way online over a week prior to any official release (on DVD or via direct download).  Yet, while media corporations decry the sales supposedly lost and the evils of piracy, any real evidence that these leaks will hurt either the film or the prequel series pilot is hard to come by.

The Wolverine workprint is an unusual case, as the leaked version is unfinished – while it is feature length, many of the special effects shots are either absent or only partial and a series of pick-ups shot earlier this year are missing.  While one Fox reviewer got the boot after admitting downloading, watching and liking the workprint, some reports suggest that the leak has actually worked as great publicity amongst the key demographics most likely to see Wolverine in theatres.  More importantly, in my view, this unfinished and thus can-be-improved-upon version may just lead some people to review the film more favourably – while folks won’t admit seeing the workprint, if the official release is better, and reviewers’ expectations were lowered by the workprint, I’d guess they’re going to give relieved and thus warmer reviews.  More to the point, the workprint might also function as the most in-depth audience screener ever, which has resulting not just in mixed reviews, but in useful advice on how the film might be improved. A canny producer might just collate these suggestions and get some free tips on what the film-going public would really like to see in Wolverine!

Caprica is a different beast altogether – anyone who believes that any distribution of the Battlestar Galactica prequel series pilot will hurt its sales of the series are fooling themselves.  It has long been argued that the US release of Battlestar Galactica was aided by the enthusiastic word-of-mouth generated by peer to peer sharing of the first episodes when they were released in the UK before the US.  The direct-to-DVD pilot (no, it’s not a movie any more than Razor made sense as a standalone movie; it’s clearly a pilot) is there to do one thing: get audiences interested in the coming series. The DVD release is happening primarily because of the success of Battlestar Galactica, and the desire of BSG’s fans for something new in that franchise, albeit a very different sort of show from BSG.  From the studio’s perspective, it’ll also help gauge the level of audience interest. Yet Caprica is, more than anything else, an advertisement for the coming series. The fact that the Caprica pilot DVD will clearly make money (it was 22 on Amazon’s best selling DVD chart today, for example) is candy, and perhaps one way the producers could get a special-effects heavy pilot created, but this is definitely an addition to the normal process of shooting a television pilot.  Sharing the pilot on bittorrent will produce another metric by which the studio can see how popular the coming series will be.  That word of mouth (presuming it’s positive) will be amongst the best advertisements Caprica can have.

Update: The workprint leak clearly didn’t hurt X-Men Origins: Wolverine: it clocked an impressive $AU221 million globally during its opening weekend!

Links for March 31st 2009 through April 3rd 2009:

  • Internet traffic in Sweden plummets on first day of law banning web piracy [Guardian] – Internet traffic in Sweden – previously a hotbed of illicit filesharing – has fallen dramatically in the first day of a new law banning online piracy. The country – home to the notorious Pirate Bay website, whose founders are awaiting a court judgment on whether they have broken the law by allowing people to find films, games and music for illicit downloads – has previously been seen as a haven for filesharing, in which people can get copyrighted content for free. As many as one in 10 Swedes is thought to use such peer-to-peer services. But the so-called IPRED law, which came into force on Wednesday, obliges internet service providers to turn over details about internet users who share such content to the owners of copyrighted material, if a court finds sufficient evidence that the user has broken the law. … internet traffic in Sweden had fallen by about 30% compared with the previous day.”
  • New Wolverine film leaked online [BBC NEWS | Entertainment] – “An almost finished copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine starring Hugh Jackman has been leaked online a month before its cinema release. The high quality copy of the film has been uploaded to several file sharing and streaming video websites. The movie is incomplete, with some special effects still in need of fine tuning and green screens and wires attached to actors still visible.” (It took less than 24 hours for this workprint to appear for sale in Jordan’s pirate DVD markets and C20th Fox are on the warpath. While a leak like this might be good for publicity, given that a workprint – which means unfinished special effects more than anything else – tends to emphasise the quality of the plot and dialogue, this could really hurt the box office.)
  • Obama Depressed, Distant Since ‘Battlestar Galactica’ Series Finale [The Onion - America's Finest News Source] – “According to sources in the White House, President Barack Obama has been uncharacteristically distant and withdrawn ever since last month’s two-hour series finale of Battlestar Galactica. “The president seems to be someplace else lately,” said one high-level official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Yesterday we were all being briefed on the encroachment of Iranian drone planes into Iraq, when he just looked up from the table and blurted out, ‘What am I supposed to watch on Fridays at 10 p.m. now? Numb3rs?’” “I haven’t seen him this upset since Admiral Adama realized that Earth was actually an uninhabitable wasteland,” the official continued. “Or at least that’s what he told me. I don’t actually watch the show. It’s not really my thing.””
  • Victim Of Wikipedia: Microsoft To Shut Down Encarta [ paidContent.org] – “Microsoft will discontinue both its MSN Encarta reference Web sites as well as its Encarta software, which have both been surpassed by rising competitors, like Wikipedia. In a message posted on the MSN Encarta Web site, Microsoft says, “Encarta has been a popular product around the world for many years. However, the category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed. People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past.””