Thoughts on Sony and Cyberterrorism

The news has been everywhere that Sony is LITERALLY worse than Hitler that they have canceled "The Interview." Hold your horses there, Hollywood elite.

First, I love Rogan and Franco, and would probably see them in anything. Now that I'm an old man, it reminds me of a simpler time - a time when smoking weed and being an idiot was consequence free. Well, technically it still is, but I'm going to pretend it isn't in case my kids stumble on this at some point in the future and need guidance about living life (NOTE: If you are in some way related to me, please ignore the previous paragraph). So having less of movies starring these folks is generally not a good thing.

Second, I think it's ridiculous to pull a movie based on one post to PasteBin. It's an anonymous network, is this all it's going to take to cancel movies going forward? What happens if someone posts to PasteBin they hate Michael Bay, will that be enough?

But, third, and most importantly, much as I don't like it, Sony is probably making the exact right move here. Opening a movie is one of the most fragile things you can do in business; virtually anything can throw it off - rain, snow, parades, holidays, non-holidays, who knows. There's just a million different ways for it to go wrong - that's why studios fight over big weekends, and make sure it opens on more than 3,000 theaters, and have huge week-long press junkets leading up to the release to make sure there is as small a chance as possible that you won't show up on the first day.

Even worse, you could have a great opening, but some surprise comes along and knocks you to #2 - your movie is basically worthless at that point. Movies have a HUGE drop off (even great movies) the second week and forward, and, while there are always exceptions, it is basically a 1 in 100 chance that you'll see anywhere NEAR your opening weekend audience in week two, let alone going forward. Because you're now a #2 movie, that means you don't get to be the tentpole when it's time to sell the entire bundle of movies to Netflix/HBO/USA/whatever. And, at this point, not being #1 is virtually guaranteed when you factor in movie theater chains are starting to pull showings ("Let's see, we can show Annie, which is totally neutral, or show The Interview, which, while it got a bunch of news, which would be good, but has an ever so small chance of scaring people  to not coming. No brainer.").

On top of that, let's say Sony opens the movie, and there is a 1 in 100,000 chance that someone does something crazy and kills one person in a movie theater on the other side of the world after the movie opens. At that point, Sony Pictures is basically over. It's just too crazy to even think about, and risking an entire studio over one $42M picture is a cost-benefit ratio that is too big to handle.

So, with all this lining up against the movie, they pull it. It's not awesome to have a miss, especially on Christmas, but it's built into the studio system, and Sony knows how to survive that.

The far more concerning thing is that it appears that unrelated studios are now pulling ancillary products, like Team America: World Police or a Steve Carell movie set in North Korea. That's really worrisome - does that mean Seth Rogan and James Franco are now done making movies? Hollywood is a very skittish sort; they're going to give as wide a berth as possible just to make sure nothing bad ever happens. Not that there's some huge demand for North Korean movies, I just think this is beyond stupid.