Hacking Hollywood: The Sequel
January 13, 2015
James Franco: National Security Threat
Somewhere near the confluence of American entertainment and North Korean sensitivity, a cyber attack has sparked a national debate and an international incident, with fingers pointed and appropriate responses promised. The Interview has since been released online and in selected theaters, and the unexpected PR generated by the hacking has probably done a great deal to advance the profitability of the film. It even garnered a Presidential nod at a White House press conference.
Comedy Gag or Gagged Comedy?
The President, though, was less interested in the film than he was the seismic implications of American creativity being held hostage by a foreign dictator. American industry has long battled cyber theft of intellectual property, especially in China where a lot of manufacturing takes place, but this might be the first and most public example of a product’s distribution being hijacked. The voice of American comedy was, for a moment, bound and gagged. And we can’t seem to figure out exactly who did it.
Sony Pictures estimated an initial $90 million hit. That’s a lot of R & D on a balance sheet if you end up pulling the plug on the product. Your numbers may be larger or smaller, your market global or local, but your business is a lot like Sony Pictures. You make a good faith effort to operate within the rule of law and you face a constant threat from those who don’t. As Janis Joplin has prophesied, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” and we are never really free from cyber threats. What have you got to lose?
Roll The Credits!
So, Mr. DeMille, are you ready for your close-up?