Elizabeth Olsen, star of the recent Marvel hit movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, has not seen the recent Marvel hit movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It’s not that she doesn’t want to see it — after all, she played the Scarlet Witch in it — and it’s not she hasn’t had the opportunity to see it, because Marvel sent her a copy of the film to watch at home. But instead of just giving her a copy of the film, they sent one with a watermark on it so she couldn’t leak the movie online.
If you don’t know what I mean, a watermark is usually put on early screeners given to the press — often with the intended viewer’s name or email put prominently but semi-transparently over the movie/show. They can’t be photoshopped away, so that if the viewer wants to take screenshots or illegally upload the video somewhere, they can’t do it without identifying themselves as a leaker. Sometimes, studios also send out an early version of the film with the timecode on it, which counts the movie’s running time in real time, usually used for production but also a clear example that if it surfaced online it would be a bootleg and not a legitimate release.
It’s annoying to have to watch a show or movie with your name stuck in the middle of the screen, but it’s par for the course for big studios because they’re so afraid of spoilers getting out. And to be fair, when they send screeners out to press, the material is fully out of their control, so perhaps a bit of paranoia is justified. However, refusing to give actors un-watermarked copies of the films they starred in is bananas, but that’s what happened to Olsen when she asked for a copy of Multiverse of Madness to watch at home as she was sick during the movie’s premiere event. As Olsen related on last night’s episode of The Tonight Show:
“I’m not one of those [actors that doesn’t like to watch themselves act],” Olsen said. “I’m one of those people who likes to study something so I can figure out how to make it better. But I had a cold when we had the premiere and I didn’t want to sit through it. And so I asked them to send a copy so I could watch it, and it had my name on it and it had the time that I was watching it, and I didn’t want to watch it like that … it’s just distracting.”
Fallon explained to Olsen that studios add watermarks to screeners to prevent illegal sharing online, to which the actor replied, “How do you even do that? Who do you even send it to? How do you even record it on a computer?”
Even if Olsen was bluffing and is secretly a torrenting master, it stands to reason that she’s professional enough to not wreck her relationship with Marvel Studios by handing out a screener with her name on it. There’s the even more salient fact that Olsen starred in the damn movie and knew most, if not all, of everything that happened in it; if she wanted to spoil the film she starred in, and would make more money if people watched it in theatres instead of a shitty version on their computers, she could have done it at any time. Olsen could have pretended she’d made a Tom Holland-esque gaffe.
It’s all really, really dumb. If Marvel Studios doesn’t trust the people they hire not to illegally upload screeners to the internet, then they probably shouldn’t have been hired in the first place. It’s incredibly insulting, especially to someone who had already starred in five Marvel movies and her own TV series without spoiling anything at all.