It appears the hacker-terrorists have won. After the hackers released a "warning" that invoked 9/11 about seeing "The Interview" in theaters, the five largest U.S. theater chains have all decided not to carry the film, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film was slated to open on Christmas Day, but Sony announced Wednesday that it will not move forward with the planned theatrical release.
All this despite the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has been telling media that the threat is not a credible one. "The Interview" — which cost $44 million to make according to its leaked budget — has been getting terrible reviews, with a 50% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (For perspective, that makes it worse than "Sharknado 2: The Second One," which got a 58% rating.) So, despite the roguish charm of James Franco and the belly-baring bravado of Seth Rogen, this film might have metaphorically bombed in theaters even without the GOP's threats. That might have made the theaters' decision easier: Why show a movie that may not attract an audience with the risk of the GOP making good on its threat?
So, what does Sony Pictures do now with this expensive, mediocre film that may or may not have caused the worst corporate hacking in history? We are not film industry experts, but we have a few ideas:
- Go crazy. Do something that's never been done before: Host a livestream of the film on Christmas Day. We're all sick of "The Christmas Story." Give us something new, something different. Instead of opening in theaters, open on the Internet. Throw a Mailchimp ad on the front of that thing to make a little moolah and let it live for 1 hour and 52 minutes online. It will be a thing.
- Okay, maybe Sony Pictures is not tech-forward enough to organize a livestream, especially right now with the computers being inoperable and the malware gumming the network up. So take The Verge's advice and just start selling it online right now. Put it on iTunes, put it on Amazon. "I’d certainly pony up to see The Interview from the comfort of my home, even if it just turns out to be the goofy bro-com it appears to be," writes Bryan Bishop. So you've got one guaranteed sale already, only $43,999,993.00 more of them to go to get out of that hole.
- Take advantage of the Streisand Effect. Even though this movie is probably horrible, it has cult appeal now. People want to see it despite themselves. This might be a huge score for the online video distributor who got exclusive access to it. Get your lawyers to find a loophole with Starz and let Amazon, Netflix, and others bid for the rights to exclusively host the film online.
- Go back to the drawing board and completely recut the film. We've heard you were already nervous about the ending and that Sony's CEO himself insisted that the explosion of Kim Jong-Un's head be less gory. Why not cut that scene completely, and instead have Franco and Rogen make peace with the leader of North Korea? Hire the editor who recut "The Shining" into a delightful rom-com, and make "The Interview" into a feel-good romp about the benefits of respectful cross-border diplomacy.
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That's all we got for you, Sony Pictures. We'll even waive our consulting fee — this has been costly enough already.