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UPDATE: ‘The Interview’ is back on! The White Elephant: Case/ Solution


Sony gives the people what they want!!! We await Christmas Day Annihilation!

UPDATE: The movie will be shown in a number of independent theatres such as the Alamo Drafthouse in Texas and a number of theatres in Los Angeles. An official statement from Sony Pictures Michael Lynton reads: “We have never given up on releasing The Interview and we’re excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day. At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.”

Further plans of expansion optimistically suggest a 200-300 theatre release on Christmas Day with the a day and date VOD release; though it seems that’s just something everyone always hoped for.

“I never thought I’d see a major motion picture withdrawn from theatres, THIS CLOSE to release, on any other basis than quality.”

The Case

Here we are at an unlikely historical event. I did not think a mainstream Hollywood movie from the makers of This Is The End would end up pushing international boundaries or spark a public relations frenzy, yet here we are. A political satire with equal jabs at American government and the mainstream media business, Co-Writer & Directors Seth Rogen (32) and Evan Goldberg were surprised their controversial subject matter got green-lit in the first place and have rolled with it ever since.

The film centres on TV personality Dave Skylark (James Franco, 36) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Rogen, 32) who decide to go to North Korea after they learn the presently sitting dictator Kim Jong-Un (31) is a fan of their show. Co-opted by the desperate U.S. government, their interview turns into an assassination mission.

In real life, a sethrogentweetspokesman for the North Korean ministry spoke of the assassination movie as an “act of war that we will never tolerate.”

On December 16th, 2014 The hacker group known as the “Guardians of Peace” #GOP issued a threat to theatre owners who would screen the movie.

Warning

We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.

Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.

The world will be full of fear.

Remember the 11th of September 2001.

We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.

(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)

Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

All the world will denounce the SONY.

In response to this threat the five biggest theatre chains in North America (including Canada’s Cineplex and Landmark Theatres) announced they would not be screening the film. Sony said they would accept theatres who wished not to screen the film. Due to liability concerns it is the theatres owners duty to inform the customer of any outstanding threat. Shortly afterwards Sony scrapped the release entirely and followed suit internationally.

Originally scheduled for Christmas Day. The release has been cancelled. Possibly never to see the light again.

tomatometer

I guess I’ll never see what that Tomatometer is about.

Foresight

Looking at the threat it now reads more like a prophecy. We will likely not be shown anything as long as the movie doesn’t premiere to the public. There will likely be no bitter fate to attend to with that premiere. So very little of the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures has made, unless of course it leaks online.  Now the world is at least fearful, not necessarily of the threat itself, but the response. The Japanese-based American company (along with others) let North Korea dictate its creative expression.

As for 9/11 I remember it every year as it is my birthday. And Christmas is like Jesus’ birthday… and I declare myself a Sony fanboy… and if this article goes viral… and I’m totally stretching this.

Box-Office Projections

A $100 million dollar gross. Given the comparisons to the success of previous Seth Rogen movies. With this summer’s Neighbors and past Sony/ Franco collaborations; ‘This Is The End‘, and ‘Pineapple Express‘ his particular R-rated brand of comedy was hitting a hot streak that was mixed into a holiday season that in years has seen solid returns in adult-driven entertainment (The Wolf of Wall Street, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). It’s safe to assume even if the film under-performed (reviews were decent at best) it would have at least made its money back in this long-legged box office season or other markets.

intbudge

‘The Interview production’ budget brief includes fees for Franco and Rogen driving themselves to work, $75,000 tiger handling, and $250 table of weed, coke, pills and panties.

Recompense

The Interview is a white elephant. Assuming a multi-million dollar loss. It has a well documented $44 million dollar production budget, with an estimated $20 million in marketing, and $10-12 million dollars in international distribution. Apart from lost grosses due to the release cancellation, two lawsuits are being fought off from previous Sony employees who say the company did not take adequate security measures to protect their personal information (Not too shocking given the results of the 2011 PSN Outage). In addition there are insurance premiums, an internal investigation, along with co-operation with the F.B.I., all that can result in punitive damages and a major loss of productivity for the company.

As little as I know about insurance laws I imagine the cancellation was done in a brief attempt to recoup all this lost money. An entire write-off. Yet being a precedent setting case its hard to tell how this could be argued if no credible threat was determined, no physical harm disaster or otherwise, and the studio cancelled on their own accord.

Still, despite its major revenue stream gone, this could be a huge opportunity for Sony. Interest in the film is as high as it will ever be. There has been too much money spent on this movie for it all to be thrown away.

Alternatives

The alternatives to theatres, apart from obviously permanently cancelling the release are a move to Video On Demand, making the movie free or with donation online, YouTube or Netflix are very interesting but unlikely scenarios. Mostly because they would involve quick-thinking and a swift action from the traditionally slow-moving conglomerate. The problem is these actions require them to do something as unprecedented as the attack that inspired it. It also requires them to be innovative for the first time in years. Take a creative risk in a time of loss.

The lamest probable scenario would be; in a few months time after any insurance is claimed, court proceedings are underway and the U.S. government tracks down some body responsible for the ‘Guardians of Peace’ actions the attention will have died down. The film will see a quiet release in theatres or even same day On Demand, (I’d like to throw out comedic friendly release dates; February 6th/ April 3rd). with a short arrival to the home video market. Any non-theatrical gross will go unreported. In 2005, Warner Bros. delayed V For Vendetta’s perfect release date in part due to a terrorist attack. In 2011, Sony delayed the video game Motorstorm Apocalypse in a sensitive response to the Japanese earthquake. This would be my best guess.

Time to fufill that 2013 E3 promise Michael Lynton.

My crazy yet extremely practical solution

If I were Kazuo Hirai; (and I’d honestly love to run Sony some day) assuming they need to avoid a theatrical release all together to gain insurance and want to avoid dismal profit negotiation with second parties like Netflix, YouTube, iTunes etc. is to experimentally release the movie on its own corporate platforms via Crackle and particularly the Sony Entertainment Network. Crackle can generate some revenue via ads, (I know because that’s how I saw Air Force One), and the film could function as a paid download on PlayStation Network and free to PlayStation Plus subscribers. If you’re feeling ambitious to address people like me that just like to stream or others that don’t have a PlayStation, reach every one of your customers and fans by making use of that $380 million Gaikai investment and stream it for rent on ‘PlayStation Now’. Giving fans the platform to release the film that they deserve. The cloud could and accommodate an abundance of users more than PlayStation Network can. A lot of people want to look at this film right now, but they won’t after The Interview’s spotlight is up.

smallspotlight

Still-shot from the film’s final trailer.

 

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This entry was written by filmgamer and published on December 19, 2014 at 6:33 pm. It’s filed under Box-Office, Case, Film, Post Analysis, retrospective, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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