In the recent movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Gordon Gecko updated his famous quote, "Greed is good," - from the first movie - to its 21st Century iteration: "Greed isn't just good anymore, it's legal!" Such could also be the case in describing how Mark Zuckerberg and the producers and writer of the award-winning movie The Social Network, went from adversaries to more than just 'frenemies.'
There was much acrimony that spewed from the hallowed halls of Facebook's headquarters in Palo Alto when the news first broke that a movie was being adapted from Ben Mezrich's popular novel, The Accidental Billionaires, The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal.
After all, the story was told mainly from the point of view of Eduordo Saverin and the Winklevii twins who sued Mark Zuckerberg for millions after they both felt betrayed by his seizure of a company they felt was partially theirs.
Subsequently when screen writer Aaron Sorkin was enlisted to adapt the book to a screenplay, emotions ramped up even more. The Zuckerberg PR machine went into serious overdrive mode not only to quash the movie's themes of greed and betrayal but also to improve the CEO's tarnished image which had just received an onslaught of negative press due to his network's privacy infractions affecting over 500 million users - with the release of its Open Graph.
During a D: All Things Digital conference, when Zuckerberg was reduced to mop sweat by Kara Fisher, he nervously responded to a question about the movie, that "I just wish that nobody made a movie of me while I was still alive."
When he made a $100 million dollar donation to the Newark School District in New Jersey, the gesture was suspect and viewed as a veiled attempt at positioning Zuckerberg as a charitable benefactor in league with such Internet notables as Bill Gates. Corporate make-overs are never easy, but this generous donation was ill-timed and didn't do the Facebook founder as much good as he had hoped.
So with so much bad blood, why did The Social Network's movie producer Scott Rudin seem to go out of his way at the recent Golden Globes to thank the folks at Facebook? After all, it was quite clear that the movie was not permitted to buy ads or publicize the movie on the Facebook platform which had proven to be a successful advertising vehicle for a lot of other movie releases.
Nonetheless, when the movie won the highest honors of best picture at the Globes, Rudin said in his acceptance speech, "I want to thank everybody at Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg for his willingness to allow us to use his life and work as a metaphor for which to tell a story about communication."
Aaron Sorkin's Golden Globe speech after winning for best adapted screenplay, while acknowledging Ben Mezrich only briefly also appears to be kissing up to Zuckerbeg and even corrected some of the dialogue he wrote for the movie. He notes that the Erica Albright character played by Rooney Mara in the film got it wrong… because Mark Zuckerberg, "turned out to be a great entrepreneur, a visionary, and an incredible altruist."
For those that are unaware how that dialogue played out in the movie, in the graphic novel satire, titled "Facebucks & Dumb F*cks," the book satirizes the repartee between Mark and Eric that led to the now infamous quote that labeled Zuckerberg as an "asshole."
Page from Facebucks & Dumb F*cks graphic novel
So both Rudin's and Sorkin's comments would suggest that Zuckerberg wants to do an about-face even though he was portrayed as a soulless, hyper-ambitious entrepreneur in the movie. What could have turned the tides? The answer seems to lie in the fact that Sony Motion Pictures coupled with the movie's earnings could have been the common denominator to calm both parties.
Since Facebook has a long-standing relationship with Sony regarding advertising and Mark doesn't want 'to bite the hand that feeds,' this looks like a business decision that comes down to the power of money. According to a Sydney Morning Herald report, "nerves at Facebook may have calmed after the film was strongly embraced both by moviegoers and critics"
The report went on further to say, since (the movie) "grossed more than $200 million worldwide so far and garnered numerous accolades for its star, Jesse Eisenberg, director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, and is the odds-on favorite to win top awards at the Oscar," at the end of day, neither Zuckerberg, nor Sony want to be publicly critical about their respective 'cash cows.'
It would have been interesting to see how this might have played out differently and if both parties might have remained "foes" versus "friends," had the movie bombed at the box office?
Page from Facebucks & Dumb F*cks graphic novel