So with Kim Jong Un calling the shots in Hollywood and deciding that Sony will not release “The Interview” we have officially entwined pop culture with world politics. As exciting as it may be it’s just another  cotton-candy vomiting ride of Dear Leader, nukes, and crazy that North Korea is dragging us through. Sony has lost millions in revenue with the premature release of several movies as well as execs being incriminated with racist and sexist emails.

However, if there is one silver lining for Sony is that

  • Everybody now knows about the “The Interview”.
  • Everyone wants to watch it now that North Korea is banning it.

Pretty awesome benefit if there ever was one, but what’s the possibility that the whole thing was Sony orchestrated the whole thing as a marketing stunt?

Pretty nil, with the FBI and Obama saying North Korea was behind it, making it a bit too geopolitical for a pair of stoners and their fancy suit handlers, (unless Sony promised to use Obama’s ideas for 23 Jump Street) however how would it play out if the world is being controlled by a bunch of clever chaps instead of some fat idiot with too much power in his hands?

Sony’s Motivation

The Interview Rotten Tomato Score

As interesting as the premise of assassinating Kim Jong Un is, it’s received middling-reviews by reviewers, by most analysts would have flopped internationally and likely would have just died quietly and added to the Rogen film collection.

The only thing the movie had going for it is it’s premise, and marketing it using a meta-narrative as a movie of assassinating Kim Jong Un almost assassinated by Kim Jong Un, is brilliant to be crazy.

It has grabbed the attention of the world and crafting this sense of realism the absurdity of a nation state trying to play Hollywood critic will always grab the news. Heck, if they do release it I wouldn’t put it past Obama to hold a private screening just as a screw you North Korea.

And being hacked is the only plausible way for the movie to be targeted, so how would it work?

The North Korean Hack job    

North Korean Hackers

Given the Kim’s family love for movies and that it was about killing Kim Jong Un “The Interview” was going to be threatened by North Korea. So blaming them would not have been difficult and if Sony did orchestrate a hack job as a marketing stunt, here’s what they could have done.

  • Had “chunks” of movies released i.e. first half-hour enough for the plot to get interesting, or movie without the audio, or a poor-quality version, any form that made the movie watchable but would leave the viewer wanting to watch the “official” versions
  • Emails that revealed personal, embarrassing but sfw details of the cast, crew and execs that humanized them, dropped some behind the scenes of the movie, and hints of future movie ideas being created.

While unconventional it would have created a further sense of realism for an interactive marketing campaign and more creative than getting a Denny’s breakfast.

What now?

The Interview Seth Rogen & James Franco

Sony’s announcement that they would not be releasing “The Interview” is not permanent for several reasons.

Sony is going to keep tabs on events such as Obama promising a “response” to North Korea’s hack, and with rumours of The Interview being released on Crackle, this story is far from over. Despite Sony just wanting to walk away from all this with damage control in mind, the combination of geopolitics and pop culture creating “The Interview” awkward, but powerful meta-narrative has made it a marketer’s wet dream: Becoming the most talked about movie of 2014. I for one will be watching this story with great interest and hoping that the next time a movie becomes this talked about again, it’s because of a clever interactive marketing campaign rather than politics gone petty.