‘Wolverine’ premiere may be in your town, or on your computer

April 05, 2009 | 2:45 p.m.

Wow, what is going to happen when “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” hits theaters on May 1?

More than 100,000 downloads of a nearly finished version of the film were snatched off of file-sharing websites this week after a copy of such a version of the 20th Century Fox film was leaked. The FBI is investigating and, believe me, the studio was badly rattled by the theft — this film, on paper, looked like it could be one of the biggest releases of 2009 but it has been encountering considerable turbulence for a movie still sitting on the runway.

First, there were rumors of late re-shoots (suggesting that director Gavin Hood was scrambling to correct missteps or make up for missed moments) and the whispers were so nagging that star Hugh Jackman took the unusual move of approaching the fan press in a gesture of rumor-control (or, for you cynics, a measure of damage-control).

Jackman has been nothing but a gamer when it comes to this film. The famously likable star has been an enthusiastic ambassador for the project all the way back to Comic-Con International (and it’s no surprise, since he is a producer on the film as well as leading man). This week he was the voice of the movie once again, this time announcing a pretty cool contest that has been stirring considerable fan interest already. Check out this video:

You can read more about the contest right here.

So I can think of a half-dozen reasons the movie could end up as a big May hit (fanboys love the character and Jackman in the role, the star is popular beyond the niche comics crowd, there’s a pretty snappy trailer, there’s a good cast and a gee-whiz factor of seeing Gambit on the screen…) but I can  think of just as many reasons that it might disappoint (not least among them the brand-deflation caused by Brett Ratner’s groaning finale to the otherwise sublime “X-Men” franchise). There are a lot of fanboy movies that look like dead-bang hits this year (“Star Trek,” “Terminator Salvation,” the sixth “Harry Potter” film and “Avatar” spring to mind) but I get the feeling that “Wolverine” will have to claw its way to the top the hard way.

– Geoff Boucher

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