I’ve been meaning to take some time and go through the Sony hacked emails for myself and not see it through the media filter but alas I haven’t had the time and so I did read a few articles about the sexisim, racism and misogyny from the Sony emails. I was hoping that it would change the game players at Sony but also create a sweeping change because we got to see behind the curtain of a studio that wasn’t pretty.
My filmmaker friends were happy with the leaks and calling for the downfall of the studio system so that indie films would again rise. They were generally on the side of the hackers for providing the information. I, like many of them, were excited to see some transparency.
Then it all changed.
“The Interview” was pulled from theaters due to a possible “terrorist” attack. Now I’m seeing those same friends side with Sony that it was a good idea to shelve the film. Many are saying “the terrorists have won” and “it’s sad for creative self expression.”
Personally, it’s still unclear to me if these “terrorists” are the same as the hackers who leaked the emails or if it’s a different group – and if it’s even true.
When something doesn’t fell right to me, I follow the money. When a single person does something that feels off it’s usually due to fear. When a group of people do something that feels off it’s usually due to money.
So let’s follow the money of Sony.
Sony was having a real PR problem with the leaked emails and it just so happened with a box office slump in their latest films *and* the upcoming release of a film they just might have hoped to give them year end profits.
Sony really needs “The Interview” to do well. Only 9 of their 30 movies this year grossed above $50,000,000 and most films average cost are about $40 million. So much so that remember back in May when Sony postponed “The Interview” because of Seth Rogen’s Tweets defending an article about the Santa Barbara shootings being possibly influenced by Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow movies? Wasn’t there also something about James Franko and Instragram where he was trying to hook up with a 17 year old? May-April was a bad month for PR for the two. Here is a link from June with “The Interview” slated for an October 10 release. The film was also shot in November 2013 in Canada, so most likely it’s been ready for a while now.
Seth Rogen is Sony’s golden boy with “The Neighbors”, “This Is The End” “Green Hornet” and more. He brings in a fan base and $$ and is tied into what Sony has been releasing lately with outrageous comedies with a few feel-good picks and Spider-man sprinkled in between the gross profit lines.
“The Interview” seems to built as a possible big tent pole for Sony. But with the recent email hack, that film was in jeopardy and maybe sending Rogen and Franko to do PR for the movie wasn’t the greatest idea because of their track record. So I’m just thinking how wonderfully convenient it is that they had to pull the movie because of a threat of a different attack.
So again, following the money.
How do you make something more valuable? There are two ways 1) Hype 2)Scarcity.
Hype – there has been a lot of hype about this movie and for quiet a long time actually. So much so when I saw a trailer for it I could have sworn it had already come out and was surprised to here it still had a release date for theaters. Hype is bought and paid for by studios but what if no one wants to cover your movie? Create a conflict like the “The film North Korea doesn’t want you to see.” That’s pretty good hype, but I’m still not interested in seeing it but it’s good water cooler conversation (do those still happen?) or tweets and posts. The theory of rebellion of “someone I disagree with (for no real reason) is against it, so I’m for it.” Freedom of speech – America Fuck Yeah!
Scarcity – by making something so hard to find (like removing it from theaters) it creates a demand. Most of our economy is run on scarcity – gas prices go up when oil is harder to get, price of our groceries go up when the corn is harder to get (corn and the high-fructose syrup it’s made from is in most of our foods). Now I’m sure a lot of you might have thought “Now, I want to see the movie to figure out why North Korea is so mad.” But you can’t see the movie. Doesn’t that make you want to see it more? Knowing that the newest iPhone will be sold out in mere minutes after a release, doesn’t that make you want it more?
So I question – and it might be because I watched 12 Angry Men last night – Why? Why did Sony pull the movie? Is it the threats and wanting to save the US from a terrorist attack or was it because they were in such a PR shit storm that if they created scarcity and used that word “terrorist” they could paint themselves as the victim and people who were very much angered by their business dealings would flip-flop and support their product?
Sony might be tricking you into thinking they are the victim and they are doing you a service by pulling the movie when really I feel they are saving their own ass and going to make a pile of money off a film that has little entertainment value and hard to sell in the first place.
Don’t believe the hype and don’t fall into the fact that something that is hard to get is more valuable, it’s not.