Christine Spines
April 13, 2009 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Execs at Twentieth Century Fox, who were facing the potentially lethal leak of a copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine two weeks ago, may now have reason to relax — and actually be excited — for the film’s May 1 opening. A tracking report containing consumer research statistics shows a high “wanna see” rating for the film, which is said to be the No. 1 choice for young men and guys aged 31 and older. Those two demographics are key to boosting the first-weekend numbers for a male-targeted superhero franchise film like Wolverine. (Fox has no comment.)

This is quite a dramatic turnaround for a movie that was hit with a crisis scenario two weeks ago, when a full-length, unfinished copy of the movie was uploaded onto the Internet and subsequently downloaded by more than 100,000 viewers free of charge. That could have translated into a lot of lost ticket sales, and, indeed, some industry observers predicted the effects could be catastrophic for the big summer tentpole. But this research seems to contradict that line of thinking and support those who wondered aloud whether the leak might actually turn out to be a positive development for the X-Men spin-off by generating heaps of free publicity. One exec from a competing studio says that it’s too early to predict Wolverine‘s opening weekend numbers, but they’re sure to be huge. “Wolverine is in fabulous shape,” says the source. “They could open today.” 

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