In 2003, Universal's "Hulk" emerged on the Internet two weeks before its theatrical release. The film still raked in $62 million in its opening weekend, but a week later its haul dwindled to $19 million. "Hulk" ended up being a financial failure, not grossing enough to cover its $137 million production budget -- though that may have been due more to a poor critical and audience reception rather than the Internet leak.
Considering "Hulk's" fate, if the "Wolverine" leak doesn't generate an onslaught of bad reviews like the one by Lemke, it stands to reason that the film will do just fine at the box office.
"In some ways, this is sort of like 'X-Men 4,' and when you get to the fourth installment of any series, you can have audience erosion," said Gitesh Pandya, editor of BoxOfficeGuru.com. "So this movie really needs to excite the fan base."
And if more fans than not are enticed by what they saw online, it's likely they'll line up to see "Wolverine" on the big screen.
"Fox wants to show off this film in its best possible light, and this takes away some of their ability to market the film effectively, but seeing it in its unfinished version may just whet the appetite for people to see it again on the big screen," said Paul Dergarabedian, a box office analyst for Hollywood.com. "People are still going to want to go and see this movie the way it was meant to be seen."