Dear Sony Pictures.
I have to say that I've tried really hard to avoid reading your e-mails that were recently stolen and released by hackers. But sometimes I've been asked to comment on them, and they've become so ever present, they're just plain hard to avoid without cutting myself off entirely from the outside world.
I admire the gumption of studio CEO Michael Lynton in declaring that the hack won't take you down. That's very sweet. Also I noticed that the MPAA, the movie business's drunk uncle, has also expressed their support for you. That's also sweeter than honey dipped in sugar, but it's not stopping those same studio-related media outlets CNN (Warner Bros.), Fox News (Fox/Newscorp), ABC News (Disney), MSNBC/NBC News (Universal/Comcast), and CBS News (Viacom) from feasting on the fat and gristle of your corporate humiliation no matter how loudly you ask them to stop.
The one unescapable truth is that Sony Pictures and its subsidiaries, Columbia, Tri-Star, etc… are in a state of profound dysfunction.
The grey eminences at Sony's head office in Japan might accept Hollywood dysfunction when it's a part of being in the movie business spoken only in whispers only by the people in the movie business. However, when it's very public and very embarrassing, then it's not acceptable at all, because it makes them look bad.
Which is why I'd like to offer a suggestion for a replacement to run Sony Pictures:
|FURIOUS D FOR BOSS OF SONY PICTURES|
Hey, you've tried the best, why not try the rest.
I even have a plan.
1. LET MARVEL HAVE SPIDER-MAN.
Why? Well, there are good reasons. The Spider-Man movies released by Sony/Columbia have been suffering from rising costs and diminishing returns. Sure the box office scores look good, but they cost so damn much you end up losing in the long run.
Plus you're ideas to keep the franchise out of Marvel's hands are getting kind of embarrassing.
Let Marvel have Spider-Man. Take a token payment, or some percentage of the first two Marvel Spider-Man projects and you'll be fine.
And then don't panic over losing it when you…
2. ADMIT YOU DON'T NEED SPIDER-MAN.
That's right, you don't need Spider-Man because you have:
James Bond is literally the grand-daddy of the action-adventure movie franchise. On the plus side he's hotter than ever, with both hard-core fans and casual movie-goers literally excited to see the next one.
You don't need anyone else right now. So ditch Spider-Man, Men In Black, and all the other properties that are more hassle than they're worth.
3. DON'T RELY ONLY ON BOND.
I know, I sound like I'm contradicting myself, but stick with me.
Bond is a great tent-pole picture franchise that you release every two to three years, and having one is nice, but it makes you ask yourself: What do you in the meantime?
Well, Universal turned out to have a real whopper of a year profit-wise by foregoing blockbusters in favour of smaller films with wider margins and reduced risk. Something I'd been preaching about on this blog for years.
4. PUT STORY OVER STARS
The days of the star system is over. It's been over for a very long time. So called "stars" don't sell tickets and home-viewings the way they used to. They are a hell of a way to kill off what could have been a decent profit margin and turn it into a loss.
Audiences want stories featuring characters that are worth their money and time. They don't have to be likeable, but they absolutely must be interesting.
And the beauty of it all is that story isn't expensive.
5. DON'T SCREW OVER THE PEOPLE YOU WORK WITH.
Technology has made the physical process of making professional looking films cheaper than ever before. However, Hollywood's production costs have an inflation rate not seen outside of Zimbabwe.
There's a reason for this, and it's because everyone expects to be screwed.
This means that everyone tries to get as much as they can up front, and those that have the tiniest smidgen of clout within the industry, go hog wild. So you get romantic comedies that cost over $150 million. Seriously, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS FOR A ROMANTIC COMEDY.
That should be an impossibility.
If a studio set a new practice of not screwing people, they might actually see costs go down. Then it might spread to the rest of the industry.
Sure, hiring an inexperienced unknown is a crazy idea, but at least I know enough to NOT put embarrassing stuff in a business e-mail.