Social Media For Movie ‘The Interview’ Heightens Demand (Update)

With major media outlets pointing fingers at North Korea and their ominous cyber-terrorist public relations arm (going under the code name, ‘Guardians of Peace’) — it seems probable at this point in time Sony has been bullied into pulling the plug on their movie, The Interview.

Source of Retaliation

According to a number of reports, the FBI is naming North Korean as the source of the recent hack on Sony Pictures’ emails. These are the messages that caused so much ill-will and controversy amongst celebrities who’ve been demeaned by several Sony execs internal communiques (including salary breakdowns and embarrassing privacy details). The retaliation by North Koreans stems from the fact the comedy flick depicts a TV presenter and producer who are dispatched to North Korea to assassinate Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.

Pulling the Plug

On December 17, the Hollywood Reporter reported that five major theater chains — Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment will not premiere the movie as originally planned for the December 25th Christmas Day showings.

These cancellations came on the heals of hackers raising the threat level with an emailed message to reporters invoking the September 11th terror attacks on U.S. soil. Such attacks would be leveled at cinemas that aired the film to the U.S. public.

Terrorist Threats

“The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment,” noted the omnious email.

“Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film,” said a company spokesman — which goes against earlier reports that it was considering an on-demand release, which would help it recoup some of the film’s $42M budget. Also, all mention of The Interview has been pulled from Sony’s website.

Heightened Demand

Within social media circles, however -- It’s thought that somehow, someway this movie will make its way to the public via black market DVDs, Internet torrent sites or Kickstarter campaigns to rent space in major U.S. theaters for private screenings. 

There’s too much controversial buzz emanating from this case that will only go towards stimulating heightened demand. And if the two stars of this movie alone were to unleash their social media influence, the potential revenue that could be created, could far outstrip any previous sales projections for the film.

Seth Rogen has 2.38 million Twitter followers, while James Franco has 2.67 million followers. That's not to mention that Franco's Instagram, which has proven it can make national headlines, has 3 million followers.

Tweets by celebrities claiming that Sony’s decision to pull the plug is unprecedented is only adding fuel to the promotional fire. Both late night host Jimmy Kimmel and director Judd Apatow have already weighed in.

Politicians weigh in on Social Media too. . .

Hard-line conservatives the likes of former Massachusetts and presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in social media message that Sony Pictures’ response to the threats over its comedy “The Interview” ought to be more in-your-face and defiant: He advised the company to release the film online for free viewing.

Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, said the decision to pull the film from theaters isn’t a good move for America.

“No one should kid themselves,” the former House Speaker said in his own tweet. “With the Sony collapse, America has lost its first cyberwar. This is a very very dangerous precedent.”

President Obama also said that threats by the hackers responsible for the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment shouldn't deter Americans from going to movie theaters over the holidays.

"Well, the cyberattack is very serious,” Obama said. “We're investigating it. We're taking it seriously. You know, we'll be vigilant. If we see something that we think is serious and credible, then we'll alert the public. But for now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies."

Remember South Park? (UPDATE)

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Dallas scored big points among many social media users by opting to show a movie with a similarly critical message about North Korea – for free.

A decade ago, ‘South Park’ creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone took on the serious subject of terrorism with an irreverent movie starring a cast of marionettes. The Texas theater announced this week that it will be bringing back ‘Team America: World Police’ for a special viewing during the time slot initially dedicated to the premiere of ‘The Interview.’

Unfortunately within minutes after including this UPDATE in this post, Paramount Studio Films pulled the 'Team America' movie from being aired in Dallas as well some other theaters that were following the Alamo Drafthouse's lead. 

According to The Atlantic, "The (Paramount) studio did not comment on why it called on the theaters to not screen the film, but in this era of silent consent, Paramount either threw its lot in with Sony out of solidarity or decided to stay out of the fray by denying the screening of a film it had already released. Either way, it was cowardly."

Your Thoughts Readers?

So your thoughts, readers? Has all this hype only increased your desire to see this movie, even if its by bootlegged means? And if so, would you have gone to see this movie prior to the controversy or has these unfolding events only heightened your interest level?

UPDATE ~ Reuters - December 24: Google's YouTube tentatively agrees to stream 'The Interview’ as a rental on Christmas Day, according to CNN, with the caveat there is no guarantee that this deal may not fall apart as well in the 11th hour.