Victory for America, Sony, and Capitalism!

Sony is making The Interview available on the internet — you can watch it for $6 on your computer screen via YouTube, which is 50 cents more than the price of a ticket at my local movie theater (yes, I know, my small town movie theater is not representative of ticket prices elsewhere in the universe).

I am now afraid that many people will leap to shell out the money for patriotic reasons, and the movie industry will have discovered a new way to foist wretched Rogen/Franco movies on the public and make buckets of money in the process. It could be the beginning of the end of the world when Adam Sandler starts making North Korea jokes to promote even schlockier direct-to-video crap.


  1. says

    I won’t be watching, wouldn’t even if it were free. I’m a bit more selective about wasting my time – today I’ll be wasting it with Ragnarok and Killer Mermaid.

  2. robro says

    Many people will shell out six bucks just because of the hubbub surrounding the movie, even without a patriotic motive. Could the Sony hack just be great marketing? Would Hollywood perpetrate a scandal for press? Perish the thought! Watch ET and get the real dope…I mean, story.

  3. peterh says

    Next town over will have it for $5. Based on what I know about the film’s premise, I wouldn’t go see it if you paid me the $5.

  4. says

    I am now afraid that many people will leap to shell out the money for patriotic reasons, …

    Yes, I am every bit as eager to watch it on TV as I would have been to watch it at a local theater. Which is not at all. I have better ways to spend my time.

    However, I’m glad that Sony decided to make it available, even though I won’t be watching it.

  5. David Wilford says

    It’s only a matter of time before direct-to-home movie releases make theaters obsolete. Oh sure, a few will be preserved as museums, but the rest? Dust, Ozymandias. Dust!

  6. Al Dente says

    Thank you, Sony, for making available a movie I have no intention of watching. Your action, although unnecessary in my case, is appreciated.

  7. loreo says

    Charlie Chaplin on The Great Dictator: “Had I known of the actual horrors of the German concentration camps, I could not have made The Great Dictator; I could not have made fun of the homicidal insanity of the Nazis.”

  8. comfychair says

    Any bets on how much they’ll make compared to what the nothingburger movie would have brought from a normal release?

    And there’s no escaping this thing. I’ve adblocked ‘sony’, ‘interview’, ‘korea’, ‘hack’, ‘rogen’, and probably a few others, it still shows up absolutely everywhere.

  9. latveriandiplomat says

    “I am now afraid that many people will leap to shell out the money for patriotic reasons, ”

    J. J. Abrams would like you to be aware the the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council has already denounced Star Trek 3. When the time comes, do what you think is right.

  10. dobby says

    I wonder why journalists aren’t upset about this movie. It would seem to cast a very poor light on them, and even risk their safety.

  11. lorn says

    I’ll be sure to watch it, just to see what the fuss is about, if the ruler of NK can get his panties in a twist over it it has to have some redeeming value. But it may be some time before I get it. I plan to wait for it to hit the $5 discount DVD bin. That way, even if the movie is a total waste the purchase won’t be. I’ll get a handy little plastic jewel case and a nifty DVD, likely with interesting graphics, that I can make into a coaster. Patriotism and frugality, what’s not to like about that?

  12. says

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Seth Rogen picture. I don’t expect this will be the first. Just not hearing good things.

    I’m really pretty happy with people making fun of autocrats, living or dead (though I hear, oddly, this one actually does rather humanize him; not sure what to make of this). But meh. It’s just hard to believe it’s gonna come off real well.

    On the subject of the ending, I’ve this funny flashback: I vaguely recall a number of people’s hair catching fire a few years back over the 2006 film ‘Death of a President’, which imagined an assassination of then-sitting Dubya (I hear also it wasn’t mostly about that; it was mostly about a very repressive atmosphere that grew out of that event)…

    … I wonder now if the same people who were squawking about that one have the same issues with this one.

    And yeah, much as I’m okay with making fun of autocrats, and much as this one in particular is a right nasty piece of work, I’m not real comfortable with fiction imagining any living person’s death…

    … and yes, even Dubya’s. Speaking of nasty pieces of work.

    I’ll still make the standard statement: I’m happy it was released. That it’s probably not to my tastes, notwithstanding.

  13. says

    I have long been a DPRK watcher and find its history and current affairs to be very interesting, and would love to see more fiction dealing with the country, but most of the western films that touch on it are about as subtle as a sledge hammer being used to fix a watch. Standard, boring, caricatures, a foil to be used to blow things up in the normal action film way. I would like to see something more along the line of James Church’s Inspector O series in film form.

  14. kyoseki says

    Sony will not be making money on this movie.

    Curiously, they’re only releasing it on third party streaming platforms (despite owning Playstation Network and Crackle, Sony isn’t releasing on these networks), so they’re probably only getting about half the revenues, if that.

    Given that they’re on the hook for about $75m for production & marketing costs, the movie would have to gross at least $150m just to break even. The movie with the highest VOD viewership to date was, surprisingly, “Bridesmaids” which generated only about $40m in VOD revenue even with generally positive reviews (90% Rotten Tomatoes), so generating 4x that with a pretty middling movie (54% Rotten Tomatoes) seems fairly unlikely in my estimation.

    I figure that this limited release has no impact on their insurance claim (which was the original reason given why they weren’t releasing it), I can’t imagine they’d intentionally scrap a solid $40m in insurance money just to save face. So either this doesn’t affect the payout or they think it’ll make them more money in the long run – one thing to remember about the movie industry is that they don’t do anything out of principle unless that principle is greed. I figure they either expect to gross more than the insurance payout or the payout isn’t affected by this limited release.

    Still, this is literally the best possible case for a VOD release, the amount of exposure it’s had is far beyond any other film, so it’ll be curious to see how it plays out, it could have a major effect on upcoming movie releases (although the movie industry still hasn’t figured out how to bill VOD watchers per person like they do in the theater, if the MPAA starts pushing for Kinect type connectivity on all new TVs, you can bet your ass that’s what they’re planning).

  15. Tenebras says

    I am not going to support this movie. One day, the people trapped in the horrible camps of North Korea will be free. And they will look at all this schlock we made, and realize that the world was more interested in telling jokes about a disgusting tyrant than it was in helping them be free of him.

  16. gardengnome says

    Could Sony have realised they’ve got a turkey on their hands and created all the hubbub to try to make it pay – wouldn’t surprise me.

  17. Ragutis says

    I’m all for ridicule, and not above sophomoric humor, but unless there’s a stocking full of weed waiting for me in the morning, I doubt I’ll be seeing this. And $6 can get you some good stuff with the Steam sale going on. I grabbed Walking Dead 2 for a whole $6.49 last night. Besides, zombies and whatever foes I’ll face in the new Divinity are more my type of monster.

  18. Usernames! (ᵔᴥᵔ) says

    Could the Sony hack just be great marketing?
    — robro (#2)

    Such a feat would be far beyond their capabilities.

    The heads of Sony are old fossils who have no idea how technology works. Like most with Dunning-Kruger and corporate power, these folks often have wild and unworkable ideas, but little that is practical or expedient.

  19. ethicsgradient says

    $5.50 for a cinema ticket? It’s been above that in the UK for at least 15 years (average price in 2000 was £4.40; exchange rate then was about $1.5 to the pound, so it was about $6.60 then). My local cinema (town and area population about 125,000) now charges £10.25 (c. $17) for an adult ticket (admittedly a ripoff – the national average last year was £6.50 – maybe that average adult and child prices).

    I would have thought a small town cinema would still have fairly expensive prices – they can’t count on getting nearly full houses for the popular films.

  20. kyoseki says

    Let’s get one thing straight.

    The Sony hack is real and it’s going to cost them well over $100m to fix it. The studio heads, Lynton & Pascal will almost certainly be out on their ear when Sony Corp. comes in to clean house after the dust settles and pretty much everyone who worked for Sony Pictures in the past 20 years (including me) has had confidential data leaked onto the internet and will have to watch out for identity fraud forever.

    This is NOT a marketing ploy.

    Pointing the finger at North Korea within 24 hours of the hack (the original attribution to NK came from within Sony almost immediately)? Yeah, that sounds like the marketing guys – or the legal guys who likely figured out that if NK is responsible, Sony would be off the hook for their notoriously lax network security.

  21. says

    @22, Usernames! (ᵔᴥᵔ)

    Such a feat would be far beyond their capabilities.
    The heads of Sony are old fossils who have no idea how technology works. Like most with Dunning-Kruger and corporate power, these folks often have wild and unworkable ideas, but little that is practical or expedient.

    Ah, but they have lots of money, and there are people out there who can be paid to do things. And, as we know from the infamous Sony rootkit scandal, Sony is willing to do a lot of unethical stuff. I would find it completely plausible if Sony turned out to have paid the hackers to do this. At the very least, I think we can definitely say that Sony is playing this for all it’s worth to try and get people interested in seeing the film. Critics got to see the film before this whole thing blew up, and they more or less universally panned it. It was going to be a dud if Sony hadn’t been hacked.

  22. robro says

    Usernames @#22

    The heads of Sony are old fossils…

    I know someone who was a VP of something or other at Sony a few years ago. He’s very smart with an EE from MIT and years at various big name technology companies.

    He’s also not so old…watch that ageism, please, we old fossils might get upset and wheeze all over you. I’m sure Sony has plenty more like him, and younger. Did you know that Michael Lynton, the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, is only 54? And a Harvard man to boot…hardly your old fossil type.

    In any case, as The Vicar suggests, even if Sony didn’t directly engineer the hack, they are making the most of it. That includes the PR flap around the hack. You can bet that they are watching their bottom line all the time and maneuvering to enhance shareholder value.

  23. robro says

    Apropos of this thread, The Guardian has a story tonight about Sony’s attempt to block news stories about the hack. As the author notes: “…there are far greater threats to our freedom of speech here in the United States. For example, Sony itself.”

  24. magistramarla says

    I don’t like the childish humor of Seth Rogan films, so we won’t be seeing it either.
    On the other hand, there’s a Dr. Who marathon going on right now, leading up to the new show tomorrow – yay!

  25. carlie says

    As I saw someone comment earlier – sure, give Sony your credit card information. What could possibly go wrong?

  26. says

    carlie, Sony won’t be getting the credit card info for people watching this film, it does not appear to be available through their own services. Then again, not sure I would trust Google and Microsoft all that much either.

  27. Akira MacKenzie says

    Yeah, I could care less. I’ve got to work tomorrow and with my employer you’ve got to apply three years in advance to get off for a major holiday, so I’ll be sitting at my desk all day long doing next to nothing. I’ll watch some X-Mas related MST3K episodes and RiffTrax (though Bill Corbett is on my shit list right now for an anti-atheist post on FB).

  28. Moggie says

    What kyoseki says. And the hack may lead to lawsuits against Sony from people and companies affected, and of course the terroristic threats against cinemas could result in those responsible going to jail for a long time. Anyone who suggests that Sony did all this to make a few million bucks is devoid of common sense.

  29. andyo says

    I still don’t know how people can even begin to think everything was a marketing ploy. Even without looking at the specifics, Sony is not coming out of this looking good at all and goddamn terrorist threats were made. Isn’t that, like, highly illegal or something? I guess if “they” can kill Kennedy, do 9/11, and fake the moon landings, a little bomb threat is not too much?

  30. caseloweraz says

    Iyeska: I won’t be watching, wouldn’t even if it were free. I’m a bit more selective about wasting my time – today I’ll be wasting it with Ragnarok and Killer Mermaid.

    Don’t fail to miss two more: Vampire Dentist and Piranhaconda.

  31. says

    Sony has lost/spent tens of millions of dollars (I heard an estimate of $200m, but I find it hard to believe) Still, I don’t think it’s a marketing prank. Unless it’s a marketing prank for the police state.

  32. says

    It does sound like a great gargling bottom-feed of a movie. Apparently one of the big “ha ha!” gotchas in it is that Eminem “comes out” Uh. Is that a funny thing?

    It may be performance art – they wanted to make a movie so bad that everyone would pay to see it. Then they’ll do a documentary about it. Crap, no.

  33. says

    @32, Moggie:

    Anyone who suggests that Sony did all this to make a few million bucks is devoid of common sense.

    Sony has repeatedly demonstrated that they have no clue how the public at large feels about privacy invasion, within the last decade they have demonstrated that they are willing to break laws regarding computer security (the rootkit scandal I mentioned above) and that they are clueless about security (the repeated hacks of the PlayStation Network, which were apparently permitted because of really obvious bad design decisions on Sony’s part), and although I have been unable to find an exact figure, the rootkit scandal seems to have cost them in the neighborhood of $10 million, potentially (when legal costs are figured in, and if everyone eligible cashed in) as much as $22 million, to say nothing of the loss of goodwill and the loss of business in the boycotts which were organized.

    In other words: the idea that this hack was a PR stunt gone bad is not an extraordinary claim, because every aspect of it with the exception of the motivation being PR has already occurred at least once within relatively recent history. Basically, the objection boils down to “would Sony be willing to cause an international incident potentially even leading to war strictly for PR purposes?” Considering that corporations routinely make PR decisions which kill people — tobacco companies, drug companies, Firestone tires, etc. etc. etc. — even that wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

  34. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Basically, the objection boils down to “would Sony be willing to cause an international incident potentially even leading to war strictly for PR purposes?”

    Or, is somebody is willing to believe conspiracy theories anywhere/anyhow without evidence, if it implicates multinational companies. Works both ways.

  35. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    You have got to be fucking kidding me. Using evidence of prior wrongdoing to show that there is a capacity to conspire is one thing, but anything beyond that evaluation, such as establishing a degree of ‘certainty’, is simply fantasy masquerading as reason.

  36. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    Did you forget the other 5 movies that were essentially leaked as a DVDrip before they even made it to theater? That would be incompetence, and the moment anyone uncovered such a dealing, Sony’s stocks would plummet.

  37. says

    @Nerd of Redhead/throwaway:

    You aren’t paying attention to what I’m saying. I never said “Sony has been corrupt/incompetent on a regular basis in the near past, therefore the hacks must be a nefarious conspiracy“. I said “you can’t just say ‘this can’t be deliberate because that would mean Sony is corrupt/incompetent’ because we know they really are corrupt and incompetent”. The objection which keeps coming up over and over up above is actually not a valid objection.

    Extraordinary claims famously require extraordinary evidence — but the claim that Sony was complicit in the hacks is not extraordinary, because nothing about it would require Sony to do anything they haven’t already done, and therefore proving it would only require ordinary evidence; the suggestion is plausible, if not likely. (And yes, a statement can be plausible but not likely: ‘my building was struck by lightning in the storm yesterday’ is plausible, assuming there was a storm yesterday — lightning does indeed strike during storms — but not actually likely because there are so many places where lightning could strike. Refusing to believe the statement unless I produce video evidence of the exact moment of the lightning strike would be hyperskepticism; ordinary evidence like a partially-melted lightning rod or burned-out electronics should be enough to verify the statement.)

    Unless, of course, you’re the sort of person who, in the face of Enron, Abu Ghraib, Watergate, the Snowdon revelations, and MKUltra (which I remind you was verified by Congressional investigation), still insists that “conspiracies” are just plain impossible. If that’s your point of view, then it is you who denies reality, I’m afraid.

  38. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    That’s just fucking stupid, Vicar.

    Yes, Bayesian priors and yada yada.

    But tell me, you think the risk of losing countless legal battles (and they did have a whole shit-load to lose in your fantastic scenario) to prop up what was expected to be a flop of a film?

    So, you think the exec who greenlighted this:

    Hackers claiming to be the Guardians of Peace e-mail Sony employees a poorly worded threat, vowing to hurt them and their families if they don’t sign a statement repudiating the company. “Many things beyond imagination will happen at many places of the world. Our agents find themselves act in necessary places. Please sign your name to object the false of the company at the e-mail address below if you don’t want to suffer damage. If you don’t, not only you but your family will be in danger.”

    was so worried about losing a few million that they would risk civil and criminal charges to threaten their own employees just to keep the charade up?

    Or that they would order computers and other business critical services halted for a period of a few days?

    I think not.

    Your scenario of conspiracy is ludicrous in the face of everything which has transpired since November.

    I mean, just look at all the damaging shit that’s been released. And you think it’s still in the realm of ‘plausible’ that Sony would orchestrate this…. over losing a few bucks on a shitty movie?

    That’s just plain silly.

  39. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Vicar, Prima facie evidence that Sony did not release the information, payroll and health information. No company want others, including their own emplyees, what others make for the same job. Million dollar lawsuits can result. Haul in your conspiracy theory. It goes too far.