TMNT Leaks Prove Studios Can’t Stop The Signal

When will studios catch up to the 21st century when it comes to materials?

The reveal of the design of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a textbook case of how this sort of stuff happens in the Internet Age. First there were set photos that showed off the actors in their mocap suits. Then a Halloween costume image became public, and everybody has a bad reaction to it. Finally a leaker sent out stolen pictures of the real designs. The original site that hosted these images got C&Ded by the studio, but it was too late - the pictures are out there and as of this writing they're available on the huge site The Wrap (I won't publish them simply because I'm not in the mood to deal with a C&D today). 

It's possible that the leaked images were leaked by the studio to save face after the Halloween costume debacle, but even if that's the case it shows the nature of modern reveals: studios need to be out ahead of the internet or else they're going to be playing catch up with blurry pics, shitty toy designs and snatches of glimpses from papparazzi photos. Paramount should have debuted hi-res, studio-approved images of the new Turtles weeks ago, if not longer. And they can send out letters to outlets demanding the pics be taken down but in a social media world, where the images just keep getting re-upped to Imgur or Flickr, it's too late. Everybody who wants to see these pics will. Probably has, in fact.

Like so many other things, Marvel seems to do this pretty well. They get out ahead with images that show off enough of the costumes and designs to sate the appetites of fans. Warner Bros has done a good job in the past with Nolan's Batfilms, but they're going to have to be really ahead of the curve on Batman vs Superman; I know that paps are jockeying for the first pics of the new Batsuit, which are expected to fetch thousands and thousands of dollars. WB can undercut all of that with a costume reveal in EW or USA Today, and I fully expect them to do just that. 

It isn't about controlling outlets like Comic Book Movie or Latino Review anymore. The reality is that all of this stuff has moved to social media; these images and plot points and videos are being shared organically by fans. They're popping up on Reddit and on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr, and no amount of C&Ds can squash them in every corner. The only answer is to satiate the curiosity early; I understand that the studios have marketing timelines that they've mathematically worked out, but this is a disruption that will fuck up those equations. And in a world where every person has a high quality camera in his or her pocket, nothing is safe anymore. And just wait until Google Glass really starts causing a ruckus in this world. 

I understand that not every detail needs to be presented far in advance, but the way that the audience consumes big movies has changed forever. It isn't just a group of nerds obsessing over Episode I designs anymore, it's everybody with a social media account. They're aware of these movies earlier in the process, and they want to see the materials earlier as well. Just as the studios finally figured out how to reign in and control the fan sites they now are going to have to start figuring out how to reign in and control the fans. Guess what? I don't think they can.