Friday, December 26, 2014

Honeypotted For A Good Cause

North Korea looms in the distance

Watching "The Interview" as a means of supporting the First Amendment is a lot easier than attending a counter rally to, say, the whacked out Westboro Baptist Church, or defending the free speech rights of a convicted felon to speak about his expensive sedition trial.

But still, not exactly Academy Award material.  

Of course the delicious karma of using the Internet as a main means of distributing the comedy only ads to the payback.

After all, the first shots fired in this free speech battle occurred in cyberspace with the anonymous hacking of Sony International Entertainment which provided material to bully and threaten them over releasing the movie.

And by extension threatening the rights of all Americans to choose what to see and when to see it.

If this entire back story saga were to someday become a Hollywood movie the target work being threatened would probably not be a comedy, and would no doubt take on a high brow issue like racism, sexism or some other noble cause.

The ending of the movie tries to have it both ways.  The fluffy entertainment "journalist" exposes Kim Jong-un as a tyrant with daddy issues who can't feed his people, and then lies about it via propaganda.

Rather than letting this "truth to power" live exposé bring him down, they still feel the need to take him out via a tank round.  Killing the revered leader of a sovereign nation -- even if the reverence is built on deception and fear -- is not overly funny material. 

Neither will be their response.


Anonymous said...

Where'd you see it?

Larry Kelley said...

At the Sony website

Would not play on my Mac Powerbook Pro, but worked fine on my iPad Mini 2.

Anonymous said...

This movie can't be any good. CAN it?

Walter Graff said...

Traditionally the worst films in the basket are released this time of year so no, don't expect "The Interview" to be any good.

Anonymous said...

Someone interviewed on Channel 40 said the only good part was the popcorn

Walter Graff said...

The funny thing is that this "hack" will probably give the movie more legs than it would have gotten otherwise.

And considering that many experts in the hacking world say that the entire notion that North Korea had anythign to do with this in the first place is a complete fabrication that actually is supported by nothing more than the media makes it even more interesting.

Walter Graff said...

Even NPR has jumped on the wagon. Probably nothing like what is being reported by FBI. And I agree, a great way to pass internet laws and get blind support from the public, but really silly notion when you think about it.

Anonymous said...

Once again we're dealing with Walter's reality.

The studios traditionally release the movies that they think will win awards just before the end of the year.

The worst movies get released all year round.

Walter Graff said...

Actually December is part of the three most important months for release related to "remembering a film" for award contention. But not all of the "best" films are released in December. It's also the month Hollywood dumps a what it can into theaters on Christmas Day in order to take advantage of the one-and-a-half weeks of weekdays that act more like weekends at the very end of the year aka, getting quick box office numbers fast and furious.
So it's also a month to release stinkers to get what you can from them.

Distribution is a science that doesn't always work the way you want it to though. We just started working on the Academy Award preview show now and we have little guessing to do.

While it's happened before, usually most films released before August rarely if ever get a nod. Voters have short memories, unless they are reminded of something and/or politically it would be a good vote.

Timing in the last few months is critical too. Many times November is a better month for placement than December. All depends on the films content, star power and marketing budget.

And sometimes a no-so-good movie you hope you can give more credence to like 'Unbroken, you save it for the end-of-the-year hoping you can piggy bank the press for the film to give it a push and keep it memory. Then again if it is a public stinker, all the year-end press will not help. 'Unbroken' surprised everyone being the third biggest Christmas Day release in history. Good weather helped reviews aside. But it's fading fast.

But not all films released this month are done so for award contention. Take 'The Gambler', a low budget remake of the 1974 film. It was originally going to be released next month --the worst month for film release but a better month for alternative 35 and older films. The original plan called for a digital platform release this month and a wide release next month. The film has zero chance of awards but was released this month instead to take advantage of the extra "weekdays" I mentioned. Could have been released in January and probably done the same in the BO. Since it cost so little to produce they shot for December revenue instead.

On the other end 'Big Eyes' was originally to be released in limited run but took advantage of 'the Interviewer' dropping out so went full release instead. Didn't help. The movie is a bomb and while has a talented cast, don't expect it to shine in the awards. This was an low budget experiment for Director Burton to see if he could carry anything other than what he is known for. Looks like not.

Again it's all a science and December sees some of the best films and some of the worst.

Anonymous said...

Glad to have your expert opinion. Clearly "The Hobbit" was just some low budget schlock the the studio wanted to dump.

Walter Graff said...

'The Hobbit' is always put up as a contender, so released close to the end of the year. Looking at the December releases (see below) you'll see most are simply flops and leftovers with Oscar picks strewn in.

As I said October, November and December are hot movie months for films distributes want in the awards, but not all movies released in those months are award contenders and like any other month there are a few good compared to many not so good.

Pretty much you can have a contender at any month but traditionally the best are after May and the cream starts after August.

And some actors you know are just in contention, such as Meryl Streep who has more awards and more credential than probably any actor that ever lived. No one was nominated as much as she.

And of course Hollywood loves to try to repeat pasterns as it is doing with 'The Imitation Game' patterning it's limited release, then more extended release after 'The Kings Speech' which won best picture after a similar type of distribution. That's where the gamble on the "science" is.

Reality is, in many cases Academy voters sometimes vote simply because of BO numbers and a strong upwards and continual growth garnishes clout in the voting world as 'King's Speech' did. It's about memory and how to keep names in peoples memory.

'American Sniper' will get a much broader release in January to get it's name out there and garnish more revenue showing the Academy it's a contender. I believe it started on only four screens in December but still ended up with fantastic numbers, so holding off and then releasing more widely will prove to be a good move and one of the strategies often used in the film release world -- when you have big names and you want good word to pre-date larger release. 'Selma 'will use the same strategy.

Here's December releases, most a bomb.

Goodbye To All That
The Pyramid
Top Five
Dying of the Light
Exodus: Gods and Kings
Inherent Vice
After the Fall
The Captive
The Hobbit: The Battle of the 5
Night at the Museum: Secret of
Mr. Turner
Two Days, One Night
The Interview
Into the Woods
Big Eyes
American Sniper
The Gambler
A Most Violent Year

Don't forget to watch the Awards on ABC on February 22.

Anonymous said...

Why? It's boring.

Anonymous said...

Poke him and he just drones on.

Anonymous said...

Yup! Nothing but flops, aye Walter?

<The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies took on a slew of newcomers at the holiday weekend box office and came out victorious.

Major studio releases such as Unbroken, Into the Woods and the controversial The Interview jumped out of the gate Christmas Day.
The third and final Hobbit marched steadily through the weekend and raked in a treasure trove of $41.4 million. $168.5 million since opening at No. 1 last weekend.

"The Hobbit is a perfect Christmas movie. All of these Hobbit movies have opened in December and played well over the entire Christmas holiday," says Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Rentrak. "This final installment became a must-see movie event."

Angelina Jolie's epic Unbroken broke through the tape in a close race for second place, taking in $31.7 million for the weekend and $47.3 million in its first four days in theaters. The film shot to a near-record $15.6 million on Christmas Day.

Trailing close behind for third place was Disney's musical Into the Woods. The all-star cast of Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and Chris Pine earned $31 million for the weekend and $46.1 million including the holiday.

"Those are two huge openings, I don't think anyone expected these movies to be this impressive," says Jeff Bock, analyst for Exhibitor Relations
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the finale in Shawn Levy's Museum franchise, landed in fourth place with $20.6 million for its second weekend ($55.3 million total).

Sony's musical Annie rounded out the top five with $16.6 million, giving it $45.8 million to date since opening Dec 19.

The Clint Eastwood-directed American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper, opened in just four theaters, making an impressive $610,000. The massive per-theater average of $152,510 is the second-highest this year.

Paramount's Selma, starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., saw impressive numbers in its limited 19-theater opening — netting $590,000 for the weekend for a total of $912,000 since Christmas Day.

Walter Graff said...

I know you can read what I wrote so clearly you are just an angry person. Sad.