‘The Interview’ fiasco takes turn for the better?
Written by Utsa Bhatia
In what seems like an extreme example of cyber bullying, Sony Pictures earlier this week had decided to pull their newest venture, ‘The Interview’ starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, out of cinemas. The decision was made due to a serious breach in security of some very sensitive data and also due to receiving unrelenting threats of terror attacks against theatres that choose to play the movie. But now Sony Pictures has decided to reconsider their strategies and perhaps reverse their decision. What made Sony change their mind, and will it be an economically viable decision to upkeep?
According to BBC, it was a dark day at the Sony offices on November 22 when skulls appeared on workers computer screens accompanied by some very grievous threats posted by the stealthy hackers, who refer to themselves as ‘The Guardians of Peace’. A lot was put on stake including some very embarrassing exchanges between Sony executives and Hollywood stars over e-mail. However, it didn’t stop there, because sensitive material such as scripts of unreleased ventures and even five new Sony films including Brad Pitt’s Fury and Cameron Diaz’s Annie, were also unlawfully shared.
Less than a month after the heinous hack, Sony executives decided to cancel the films much talked about premiere in New York and henceforth, have decided to shelve the project indefinitely. Inevitably, the production house received a lot of flak for their decision. Everyone from President Obama to George Clooney has lent their ten cents with regards to the whole debacle. Even comedian and TV-show host, Jimmy Kimmel, went on to tweet about the matter and said that Sony’s decision was "an un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent."
President Obama also expresses his distaste over Sony’s decision to cancel the release of the film saying that, “I wish they had spoken to me first. I would have told them to not get into a pattern in which you're intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.” However, CEO of Sony Pictures, Michael Lynton has decided to clarify the company’s stance on the matter. Lynton said, “Let us be clear – the only decision that we have made with respect to the release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theatres, after the theatre owners declined to show it.” Insiders also believe that there is a chance of the film being shown over other platforms such as DVD and Video-On-Demand, but are these the most economically feasible ways to generate revenue for the studio?
Brent Lang, reporter at Variety magazine told Business Insider that the company would probably be better off by recouping their money off insurance policies rather than releasing the movie over Video-On-Demand. “I think the high watermark for VOD is like $20 million. This would probably have been the biggest VOD title of all time just given the awareness around it, but ... by the time you cut in the cable operator, whoever it is who's distributing it, you're not going to make the money back. It's just not feasible. So, they probably took a look at those numbers and figured insurance was the better way to go.” This is especially true given that ‘The Interview’ isn’t your conventional big budget film- it’s not a franchise, or even the kind of film that would garner much critical acclaim.
Nonetheless, the film does have plenty of free publicity to add to its credit, and while there would have been a chance for the feature to become hugely successful, it’s highly unlikely that it will. With the plethora of legal bills, costs in mending brand image and costs with regards to stiffening cyber security, ‘The Interview’ is not exactly slated to be a money maker for the studio.