EXCLUSIVE: Saturday was a rocking day for Comic-Con fans of big studio tentpole films, but the actions of a couple of copyright-thieving weasels who pirated and posted exclusive Hall H movie footage has major studios reconsidering showing exclusive sizzle reels in the future. Both Warner Bros and Fox were smarting last night and fielding calls from legit online outlets who resisted posting shaky footage recorded on smartphones. Both Warner Bros’ Suicide Squad and Fox’s Ryan Reynolds starrer Deadpool saw their full-footage presentations leaked online. Neither studio was positioned to formally release the footage; Deadline won’t run run stolen copyrighted content. Insiders said that this breach of etiquette might carry consequences at future Comic-Cons.
Quentin Tarantino, for instance, showed eight minutes of his film The Hateful Eight, which to Comic-Con crowds was a real gift. If Tarantino — who early on scrapped this film after the first draft of the script for this film got leaked by agents of at least one of the small group of actors he shared the script with — sees a crappy transfer of his 70mm film dispersed on the web, why would he ever go to the trouble of unveiling footage again? Filmmakers always have taken it as a point of pride to come to Comic-Con with something to show to just the costumed faithful who come to San Diego. Some footage is immediately made public by studios — Star Wars is an example –but some of the films are still shooting or have not completed visual effects and therefore the quality isn’t up to the level it will be when the film is done.
It will be incumbent on Comic-Con organizers to improve the security measures to catch pirates, or there will be fewer special presentations going forward, studio insiders said. Even security measures only go so far. Con panel moderators appeal to Hall H crowds to not post footage, and that honor system has been pretty effective. But as the fanboy fest continues to grow in size, the chances rise that a few bad apples will ruin it for everybody.
When I asked for the Suicide Squad footage, I got a statement on the matter from Sue Kroll, the President of Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution for Warner Bros. She is integral in putting together the sizzle reels for her studio, and she channeled the frustrations of every studio and network that cut special footage just for Comic-Con and now has to worry about seeing it spread virally. Said Kroll: “We have no plans currently to release the Suicide Squad footage that leaked from Hall H on Saturday. It’s unfortunate and ultimately damaging that one individual broke a long-standing trust we have enjoyed with our fans at the convention by posting early material, which, at this point, was not intended for a wider audience. We are still in production on Suicide Squad, and will have a big campaign launch in the future. Our presentation yesterday was designed to be experienced in that room, on those big screens!”