If you were excited about any 20th Century Fox releases that might get showcased at San Diego Comic-Con International in July, you might want to tone your excitement down a bit. The studio is apparently backing out of their Hall H presentation due to piracy concerns.
Yes, you read that correctly. TheWrap is reporting that Fox is backing out of their Hall H presentation because they don't feel they can properly contain footage from leaking online after or during their presentation. This includes, but is not limited to, custom Comic-Con trailers and exclusive footage. This comes after the events of SDCC 2015 where the studio screened footage from Deadpool and it promptly leaked online, as did footage from X-Men: Apocalypse.
If you remember, the same thing also happened to Warner Bros. after they screened an exclusive, first trailer for Suicide Squad. The leak prompted the studio to officially release the trailer online because they couldn't contain the pirated footage, but they weren't happy about it.
Does this mean nothing will happen in Hall H at all?
One thing this does not clear up is whether the Hall H withdrawals include everything, like cast Q&A sessions, or just the screening of footage and trailers. Fox isn't the only studio making drastic choices, either. TheWrap and also mentions that Disney is contemplating withdrawing from their planned Hall H presentation due to the same concerns. If Disney walks away, that would not only support the theory that they are going exclusive for the D23 Expo, but it would also take away potential footage and/or trailers for films like Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Doctor Strange. Either way, I think this is a significant line in the sand regarding online leaks and piracy.
Is this the right solution to curb or end piracy?
I still don't think we have a definitive answer for that question. For the past couple of years it's been somewhat of an SDCC tradition to hop online during the weekend in a mad rush to find pirated footage from Hall H before the studios manage to get the videos taken down. Before knowing what a disaster the Suicide Squad trailer would turn out to be, Warner Bros. made the decision to air the SDCC exclusive footage from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice simultaneously online. I personally believe it was an attempt to curb any possible piracy from Hall H because initial Batman v Superman footage from SDCC 2014 leaked online within hours of the Warner Bros. presentation.
In addition to leaked footage, set photos are constantly flooding entertainment websites, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr by paparazzi-like movie fans who just so happen to be near the filming location or actually travel to take photos with zoom lenses. Suicide Squad was also a victim of a flood of on-set photos and production footage leaking online in addition to the SDCC trailer. As it currently stands, most of the photos we have of Harley Quinn, The Joker, and Deadshot are paparazzi-like set photos and not official, studio released press.
Is there any way to fix this?
I touched on this subject after SDCC last year and raised the question, do studios really have the right to be angry about trailer leaks? You can read all about it here, but to sum it up, I mentioned that the only way to stop trailer leaks is to physically remove electronic devices from Hall H.
Is taking away electronics a realistic solution? It's absolutely realistic. It would take a lot of manpower, organization, and trust, but it is very realistic. Like I said last year, the only way to curb or end piracy regarding conventions like SDCC is to remove the vessels in which the leaks travel through. If someone with a Hall H pass can't enter the room with their cell phone or tablet, they won't be able to record footage and post it online. It's truly as simple as that. The problem is there seems to be this notion in our current society that we can't survive a second without our devices. We seem to have this need to constantly capture whatever we are experiencing whether it's a theme park ride, a concert, or an exclusive movie trailer. What has come as a result? The studios are now utilizing their power and choosing to not to give presentations at all.
This is all just evidence that online leaks have gone too far and whether we are participants in piracy or not, we now have consequences to face. I ended my article last year with:
"Make it clear and take action or stop complaining. Period."
Well, it would appear that the studios are now taking action to make things clear: If you want to have Hall H presentations, stop pirating footage.