How to turn a hack, leak and censorship to your advantage
President Obama has waded into the debate. George Clooney has voiced his disappointment with the Media and his Hollywood peers, whilst sipping a pint of Bishop’s Finger at the Bull Inn, Sonning. And Brad Pitt is still getting random phone calls from people he doesn’t know.
Sony has been fighting to get this picture distributed. It will be distributed. How it's going to be distributed, I don't think anybody knows quite yet. But it's going to be distributed.
The postponement and effective censorship of ‘The Interview’ movie, off the tail end of the Sony Hack storm, has escalated into a significant global issue. Sony is in a weak position, even though it was the cinemas that refused to show the movie.
Sony needs to turn this on its head. And it can. There is an opportunity here.
From a commercial and marketing point of view, once something becomes outlawed/banned/leaked, the demand and interest escalates. Just see Prohibition. James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ was initially banned in both the US and the UK. Copies were smuggled out of its place of publication (Paris), and it is now regarded as one of the greatest books of the 20th century.
And even today, Madonna has released some tracks from her forth-coming album early, due to some of them being leaked. Whether the leaks are genuine or you take a more cynical view, the fact is that she has certainly got more press coverage for her music off the back of it.
It’s a fine balance and judgement call though, in relation to the perceived demand. Rita Ora recently promised to release new music early, if she got 100,000 retweets. She barely got 2,000 and therefore claimed her Twitter had been hacked. Embarrassing.
I don’t think “The Interview” will come close to being regarded as one of the great movies of the 21st Century, but it will fill an important part in film history and people do tend to want to own/view that which they don’t have/is forbidden.
I personally think they have to release this movie. You cannot have a situation where a movie parodying a fascist dictator is effectively censored in The Land of the Free by the very man who is being ridiculed.
The cinemas are seemingly out of the equation in relation to getting this movie out there, so Sony are now talking positively about releasing the movie by other means, possibly via YouTube. Sony lawyer David Boies stated:
Sony has been fighting to get this picture distributed. It will be distributed. How it's going to be distributed, I don't think anybody knows quite yet. But it's going to be distributed."
There definitely seems to be a large demand for this movie to be seen. Over 20,000 online movie fans have rated it 10/10, purely for the very reason that it is being withheld from them.
Possibly influenced by the new trend of pop up cat cafes and the fact my work colleague got scammed by a pop up website for ‘Nike’ trainers, I thought of the possible idea of Sony devising a distribution and marketing campaign based on some form of pop up website. These sites would make the movie available for download/streaming, but are purposely quite rough and ready in their design, echoing the non-official stream sites you get, but the notion here being that those people in North Korea who want genuine democracy are ‘leaking’ full footage of ‘The Interview’ movie out of North Korea itself: ‘the movie they did not want you to see’ and similar messaging.
Then after a few hours/a day the site disappears and another pops up, as the fictitious freedom fighters are being harried and closed down by the Korean state. You could purchase the film for 5 dollars, with a dollar from each purchase going to Amnesty International or Concern, who are striving to bring about change in North Korea with active campaigning. Just an idea. Coupled, of course, with a decent social media campaign (Don’t get Ora involved) it could take off.
The hack and attempted censorship of this movie would be turned on its head, and even helps fund the fight against those who continually seek to take away people’s liberty in North Korea.
A good friend of mine once took a train ride from Istanbul all the way to Tehran. The ruling elite in Iran is similar to that of North Korea, but once there he discovered an amazing bunch of people and a vibrant, creative underground scene. Music, humour, and joy. I have visions that somewhere in North Korea there is an underground comedy club where they are ripping it out of their leader. We can but hope.