Since well before our Sundance debut last year, I’ve been curious-slash-paranoid about when The Nines would start showing up on the BitTorrent trackers, the online repository of pirated movies and a few legitimate wares.

It was inevitable that the movie would get bootlegged at some point. The timing was the delicate issue. If it showed up before Sundance, some distributors might be frightened off (why spend x dollars when people are already watching it for free?). If it showed up online before our theatrical release, we could anticipate a hit in ticket sales, and a tougher time selling it overseas.

So for a while, I was checking every day. And nothing.

But yesterday, my Google News Alert feed showed the inevitable had come to pass: there was a DVD rip of The Nines online. Given the subtitles attached (Spanish and French), it was almost certainly the North American retail release, which I haven’t even held in my hands yet.1

I haven’t downloaded or watched the rip, but I have gotten three emails in the last 24 hours which began, “I recently saw The Nines…”

So it’s out there.

And that’s okay. Not “okay” in the sense of “legal” or “right.” But okay in the sense of c’est la vie. People are going to watch the pirated version, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Sony, Interpol and the MPAA will do their best, but as the guy who made the movie, I honestly want people to see the movie. If the only way you’re going to watch The Nines is illegally, so be it.

In fact, for a writer/director, there’s not a meaningful financial difference between someone watching an illegal download and getting it from Netflix, which distributes a limited number of discs to a large audience. Discuss.

But as the director, there are some good reasons to steer you towards the physical disc once it comes out on January 29th.

→ It has a ton of the usual special features: two audio commentaries, a making-of, gallery, deleted scenes (with commentary), and a bunch of Easter eggs.

→ It has one thing I’ve never seen before. For the opening sequence, you can see the script scroll by in the upper half of the screen, matched up to the movie and the storyboards for each shot. It’s a lot to process at once — you’ll probably need to watch it a few times — but it’s very cool.

→ You can loan a DVD, without passing along that troubling knowledge that you’ve done something illicit.

→ If you’re seen buying (or renting) The Nines, you’ll immediately identify yourself as someone drawn to challenging, divisive movies. So make sure to put it at the top of the stack as you slide it across the counter.

→ Hidden in five DVD cases are magical golden tickets.2

But if these reasons and/or your conscience doesn’t persuade you, it’s not hard to find The Nines online. And I won’t think less of you. Probably.

  1. We’ve had plain DVD screeners available for months, mostly for journalists and folks in the industry. But they don’t have subtitles, which is why I strongly suspect this comes from the official disc.
  2. This is not true.