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maryann johanson | #BlackLivesMatter

question of the day: Shouldn’t Hollywood condemn Ashton Kutcher’s ‘piracy’ of ‘Killers’?

I noted in last Friday’s Question of the Day that the Katherine Heigl/Ashton Kutcher flick Killers wouldn’t be screening for critics before it opens tomorrow. (I’ll attend a courtesy screening for press tomorrow morning, and will have a review asap afterward.) Lionsgate’s reason for this? The studio wants to “capitalize on the revolution in social media” by allowing fans to “promote” the film by yakking about it on Twitter and Facebook and the like. Assuming the fans actually like the film, that is. But even if the fans don’t like it, a fair few movie tickets will already have been sold before word gets out.

And now it seems that Lionsgate has found another way to hijack the Internet for its own PR purposes. Via Aceshowbiz:

Ashton Kutcher has defended his decision to “pirate” the first 13 minutes of his new film “Killers” online, insisting internet piracy will soon be a thing of the past when movie executives figure out a way of cashing in on the idea.

The tech-savvy star broadcast the opening of the comedy direct to select fan sites from the premiere in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, June 1, prompting criticism from film experts and critics alike, who accused him of making light of a serious industry issue.

It is absolutely impossible to believe that Kutcher’s actions did not come with the approval of Lionsgate… and in fact, it’s easy to believe that this was something cooked up not by Kutcher but by Lionsgate PR people.

Of course, this has recently become something of a standard way to promote a movie or TV show: release the first 8 or 10 or 15 minutes online, legitimately, free for anyone to watch on YouTube or on an official site for the project. But this takes the idea in a different direction: It appears to appropriate what Hollywood has been insisting forever is an illegal act.

Shouldn’t Hollywood condemn Ashton Kutcher’s “piracy” of Killers? If the industry does not condemn this, should we take Hollywood seriously anymore when it complains about piracy? What does the MPAA have to say about this? Can Kutcher’s actions be taken as evidence that Hollywood is not as clueless about the Internet as it has seemed to be? And could Kutcher’s actions actually be used in a court of law, in any future piracy lawsuits, as proof that Hollywood is not, in fact, genuinely concerned about piracy?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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