Sony Pictures Entertainment has apparently decided to dump The Interview every which way (no theatrical, VOD, DVD/Bluray or foreign…nothing) in order to recoup their investment through an insurance claim, or so TheWrap‘s Todd Cunningham indicated yesterday. (“One media report suggested that a total write-off was required to qualify,” etc.) If this was in fact Sony’s bottom-line rationale, this is typical corporate behavior. In caving like cowards, Sony essentially said “to hell with free speech and the example that this capitulation to cyber-terrorists sets, not to mention what this does to our relations with talent in this town…all we care about is the fucking dough.”
22 months ago I wrote a piece about Sony Pictures Entertainment’s response to the “pro-torture” attacks upon Zero Dark Thirty by the Stalinist left. In the view of L.A. Times reporters Steven Zeitchik and Nicole Sperling, Sony publicists figured that controversy might somehow diminish or scare away interest in the film so they more or less threw ZDT under the bus in terms of the torture argument…but at the same time the film did generate an excellent domestic return (i.e., $95 million and change).
“Bakan’s book (and the same-titled 2004 documentary based on his book) explained that corporations are, no offense, essentially sociopathic in the sense that they have only one goal, which is to maximize profit at all costs. So when it came to defending or not defending the honor and integrity of one of their films, the only question that really mattered to Sony was ‘which response will increase profits?'”
It appears that nearly the exact same thinking led to yesterday’s decision to abandon The Interview, the difference being that the calculus wasn’t “which response will increase profits?” but “which response will result in the least financial loss or damage?” I’m not certain that Sony totally ignored or dismissed concerns about free speech or protecting talent or standing up to terror, but if they did consider these values they’re doing an excellent job of persuading people otherwise.
The bottom line that I’m sensing (and please tell me if I’m wrong) is that talent in this town despises Sony right now. Who would want to be in business with these guys? Plenty, I’m cynically supposing, but every indication tells me that Sony has sullied if not poisoned its rep with people of substance within the creative community. The Sony guys showed their colors when the Zero Dark Thirty battle happened, and now they’ve shown them again.