Sunday, January 17, 2010

Adventures of the ‘Wolverine’ Leaker; New York Times, 1/12/10

Michael Wilson, New York Times; Adventures of the ‘Wolverine’ Leaker:

"The man who stole Wolverine opened the door to his Bronx apartment with a grunt, his thin frame hunched at the waist, an unlikely villain with a bad back and pajama pants. “I’m a scapegoat for this,” said Gilberto Sanchez, 47, after flopping down at his desk — the crime scene — and dragging on a cigarette. “I’m gonna get crucified.”

It has been nine months since the theft of the superhero, or more accurately, the superhero’s story. On March 31, someone posted a “work print” — an unfinished copy — of the film “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” on a Web site. It was a full month before the movie, starring Hugh Jackman as the famous mutant, was to open in theaters. Hollywood analysts called the leak unprecedented and speculated whether its free, albeit brief, availability to the public — and the unkind buzz that followed — would dampen its box office draw. Mr. Jackman himself was said by the studio to be “heartbroken.”...

In an interview in his $695-a-month apartment in the Parkchester neighborhood, Mr. Sanchez, who was in and out of city jails in the 1990s on drug charges, told his story...

Wesley Hsu, an assistant United States attorney for the Central District of California, who is supervising the prosecution, said financial gain is not necessarily the sole motive for so-called pirates.

“It’s some sort of Internet prestige thing,” Mr. Hsu said. “That’s sort of how the culture works.”

Mr. Sanchez, who speaks to rehabilitation groups — “I’m Gilberto Sanchez, I’ve been to jail, I’ve been through this, I’ve been through that” — said he has no intention of fighting the charge. “I can’t say no,” he said, pointing to his computer. “That’s like DNA.”

His fate is unclear...

“Wolverine” went on to gross $373 million worldwide, despite mostly bad reviews, and despite the online adventures of a glass installer from the Bronx who, a day after his interview, was laid out flat on the floor of his apartment, the only comfortable position for his back.

He tried to imagine what Mr. Jackman might say to him if they ever met. He hoped it would go something like this: “Hey, you did what you did. You didn’t hurt us.”"

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