Rumor Patrol: 'The Avengers' Script Leaked, Production Halted

Marvel Studios The Avengers first set photo

While America (and much of the world) has been captivated with events such as the Royal Wedding and the death of Osama Bin Laden, in the corners of the Internet a dastardly plot has been hatching - a plot to SPOIL The Avengers.

What  sinister minds would conspire to ruin one of the great geek movie events of the last decade/century/millennium, I hear you ask? Why, Internet bloggers and movie industry spies, of course! And rumor has it that this time their evil machinations may have dealt a serious blow to a movie many of us were looking eagerly forward to.

But how true is any of this?

Well, it seems that Obsessed With Film's report last week that they received a leaked copy of Samuel L. Jackson's Avengers script is accurate enough, with the website going so far as to scan a couple of pages of the script - Code-worded "'Group Hug' by Joss Whedon" - online. However, since that initial report surfaced, rumors have run rampant that Disney/Marvel would be halting production on The Avengers - which just started rolling cameras - while portions of the script are re-written in order to keep the movie's plot from being completely spoiled for true fans (i.e., ones that don't buy or read stolen scripts).

As for what plot details were featured in the stolen script - we're not going to get into that. Feel free to track it down online for yourself, if you're interested. :-)

Now, at first glance one might think that news of a studio delaying production on a film to alter a compromised script wouldn't seem all that crazy. But then, The Avengers isn't just "a film." Disney/Marvel's superhero team-up is a film event - an endeavor that simultaneously aims to rewrite the way movie franchises are conceived and developed, while also pleasing a mob of fans who have invested years of their life and countless dollars on movie tickets and/or DVD/Blu-ray purchases in order to be immersed in the shared movie universe Marvel has been building. I say all that to say: shutting down production on a project this important - with a production schedule this strict and demanding - would likely only be done in the most extreme of circumstances.

According to Devin Faraci of Badass Digest, a script delay is not extreme enough to delay The Avengers from meeting their May 4, 2012 deadline. Faraci reached out to his contacts at Disney/Marvel and received the following response:

Reports are spreading online that production on The Avengers has been halted after a copy of the script leaked online. I’ve talked to a couple of sources and neither of them can confirm this and believe that the production is trundling along just fine. That could change, I suppose, but the reality is that the cost of stopping a movie like this over a script leak is so prohibitive it seems unlikely. I’m still waiting for official word from Disney. UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Disney and this was the first the publicist had heard about it.

The Avengers Starts Production

At this point, I don't think the studio can really afford (figuratively speaking) to delay The Avengers without suffering massive penalties - whether that would be a release date delay or the many scheduling conflicts that could arise amongst its ensemble cast of star actors. In fact, I'm willing to go so far as to bet that if portions of this film are spoiled by over-eager fan(boy)s, the studio powers will merely shrug their shoulders and mutter "Sucks for them - spoiled it for themselves." By now they should (and probably do) know that word about movies only reaches so far: Just because the blogosphere hears all about it doesn't mean the general public will, or even cares to. And that "general public" demographic is undoubtedly the one the studio is aiming for with this major tentpole film.

In closing: if you're a 24/7 film fan surfing the Web, you better keep your eyes on constant SPOILER-ALERT until The Avengers is safely in theaters on May 4, 2012. It's getting kinda hectic out here...

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