Universal Studios Misses A Chance To Be Awesome And Instead Tries To DMCA Leak Of Unfinished 'Mummy' Trailer

from the sigh dept

Universal Pictures, it will not surprise you, has a long history of being overtly protectionist on anything to do with its intellectual property. This has led to stories both funny and infuriating. The studio's legal team, for instance, once asked Google to delist 127.0.0.1 for piracy, with that IP address essentially serving to denote the machine currently in operation. It's "home", in other words. On the other side, Universal's lawyers sent out licensing bills to fans its marketing team had asked to pimp one of its movies for free.

Universal keeps a tight grip in an attempt to control everything to do with its products, in other words. But when the internet is involved, such attempts at control can go horribly, horribly wrong. Such is the case with the recent leak of an unfinished trailer for the upcoming film The Mummy.

Yesterday morning very few people knew that a new version of The Mummy will be on the big screen next summer. That changed quickly when an unfinished trailer of the film was accidentally put online by IMAX’s YouTube account. As it turns out, the trailer where Tom Cruise is screaming without sound effects is quite an entertaining watch. Soon, the mistake was reposted all over the Internet, where it triggered a meme fest. Great promotion for the film, one would think, but the bosses at Universal Pictures weren’t smiling.

Let me make this more clear: this trailer, and memes incorporating it, were everywhere these past couple of days. And, to a lesser extent, they still are out there. Not with any sort of approval by Universal, of course, whose lawyers have been firing off DMCA notices to take down the trailer wherever they can find it.

On Twitter alone, several people had their postings removed over copyright infringement claims. According to the movie studio, the “leaked” trailer is not for the public’s eyes.

“The uploaded trailer was a leaked version without sound fx. This was accidentally released online but is not intended to be available for public viewing. We have removed it from YouTube, but it is still populating on Twitter,” they write.

Indeed it is, and it's not difficult to understand why. On the one hand, the trailer without sound effects and music is truly hilarious and entertaining. In fact, one wonders if any polished and completed trailer could garner so much attention as this unfinished one. On the other hand, it's quite interesting to get a glimpse at what the unpolished footage looks like, and to understand how much a musical score and sound work add to the experience. Whichever angle you come at it from, it's fun.

And it was a massive opportunity for Universal Pictures to join in on the fun, be awesome and human, and enjoy all of the massive and free publicity its unreleased movie was suddenly getting. Sure, the trailer is goofy without the production values the completed product will enjoy. But so what? Everyone understands that. And everyone realizes that the studio had no intention of the public seeing this version of the trailer. But now that it's out, Universal should be doing everything it can to supercharge the viral nature of all of this free publicity and bending some good will from the public. Instead, they are trying to shut the whole thing down.

Which, of course, isn't working.

As a result, many copies that were posted on Twitter, YouTube and elsewhere are no longer working. However, there is so much interest in the trailer that Universal can’t really keep up. For every video that’s pulled offline, several others appear elsewhere. It seems virtually impossible at this point to put the genie back in the bottle. In fact, the trailer has become a fertile breeding ground for memes, with people adding their own soundtrack or using Tom Cruise’s scream as the modern-day Wilhelm scream to pimp other videos.

And this sort of thing will only be furthered now that reports are out about Universal's attempt to unring the bell. So, the lawyers will accomplish nothing other than to create animosity where there was once only interest. Great job all around.


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 Dec 2016 @ 11:47am

    Control freaks flip out, miss out on making it work for themselves.

    Perhaps its time to consider not everything is the end of the world & wasting cash trying to stuff genies back into bottles is pointless.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      kallethen, 22 Dec 2016 @ 12:12pm

      Re:

      It's not just pointless, it's missing an opportunity to take advantage of all the free publicity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2016 @ 4:12pm

        Re: Re:

        This is pure marketing genius I reckon ... imagine releasing a trailer (with a logo saying "for meme use" or something), which is unfinished and basically inviting the internet to add their own dialog, music and effects .. they could even have a contest for most views on Youtube where the winner and 10 friends get VIP treatment to the red carpet premier

        Maybe The Lego Ninjago Movie (Sept 22, 2017), because lip syncing wouldn't be needed :) .. as long as the visual material lends to a lot of imagination ..

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris Brand, 22 Dec 2016 @ 12:10pm

    Fair Use ?

    It's pretty clearly newsworthy when a studio accidentally leaks things like this...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dirk Belligerent (profile), 22 Dec 2016 @ 1:00pm

    Contrast this stupidity to the deft manner with which Marvel Studios handled the accidental posting of the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer a week early with a simple, two-word tweet: "Dammit, Hydra."

    No freakouts. No DMCA takedowns. Just rolled with it and came off super-chill as a result. Made a lot of money IIRC.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2016 @ 1:18pm

    billable hours

    impossible at this point to put the genie back in the bottle

    Who wants to do that? Look at all the billable hours being generated by playing whack-a-mole!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Machin Shin (profile), 22 Dec 2016 @ 1:45pm

      Re: billable hours

      Would be hilarious if a leak like this got tracked back to a legal team looking for more hours. Would be great legal team intern initiation.

      "All right, as the new guy, it is your job to go find some footage to leak. The record to beat is John over there, his leak got us a total of 2,324 billable hours...."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anne Ominous, 22 Dec 2016 @ 1:47pm

    Brilliant

    *For every video that’s pulled offline, several others appear elsewhere.*

    So they are boosting the viral spread through a strategic application of the Streisand Effect.

    Well played, Universal. Well played.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2016 @ 1:50pm

    If they released it (mistake or not) then how does DMCA apply? Can everyone sue them for false take down requests?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 22 Dec 2016 @ 3:11pm

    you know...

    They could, instead of wasting all that bags of money, use it to light their now legal Cuban Cigars.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2016 @ 3:12pm

    So in order to combat piracy they now take down movie trailers. That will work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Dec 2016 @ 2:57pm

    Dummies. Maybe I should just download the stupid movie when it's finally released from a pirate website, instead of paying $40+ for movie tickets, popcorn, parking cost, and sodas at the damned movie theatre.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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