Every studio wants fans to respond favourably to their advertising materials, but the reaction to the teaser poster for this summer’s The Wolverine has been a little too positive. According to Collider’s Steve Weintraub, the poster is being stolen on a daily basis all across the United States. After praising the design to Fox executives, Weintraub learned that over half the posters in bus shelters have gone missing, forcing the studio to replace much of their campaign. This might seem like the kind of enthusiasm Fox is looking for, but it also means that much of their advertising investment is currently being wasted on empty bus shelter displays.
If thousands of people are making off with posters for The Wolverine, one can only assume that the system being used to protect these posters is incredibly weak. Then again, it’s just as likely that a few clever thieves are doing the vast majority of the stealing. Just last June, California’s Christian Eric Stevens plead no contest to stealing thousands of movie posters from bus shelters, earning more than $450,000 by auctioning them online. According to the Los Angeles Times, Stevens “received three years of formal probation and a two-year suspended prison sentenced” for his crimes.
The recent wave of The Wolverine thefts suggests that Stevens’ peers were undeterred by his actual prison sentence (25 days). A routine eBay search for “The Wolverine bus shelter poster” currently turns up four active listings. This may not result in any stiff prison sentences, but Stevens’ experience suggests that sellers and buyers may want to think twice before completing any of these sales.