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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistMon, Dec 22, 2014 5 min read

Sony Blinked, The Terrorists Won And How To Get The Power Back

The InterviewLast week, I was shocked to hear that Sony has pulled The Interview from theaters and is now NOT planning to release the movie at all.

How could they possibly give into those whom we’ve all sworn to rail against? I know the answer. The possibility of having people hurt or, worse, killed in theaters is a horrible thought, and one that should be avoided at all costs. I get it.

But, there have to be other options. I think there are viable options for Sony to consider – ones that not only shove it in the face of the terrorists, but also promote our right to watch what we want, when we want, where we want.

More relevant to everyone who is an evangelist of inbound marketing are the suggestions below, which fit perfectly with what we've talked about all year long: Create amazing content, use it to deliver an experience to your fans or customers and build an ongoing conversation with each of them to drive revenue. 

Perhaps even more interesting is that this could be the dawn of a new era in movie distribution. Here are a few ways in which Sony can get the movie out, generate a return on their investment, protect the public, avoid bowing down to terrorists and practice inbound marketing.

Give the movie away for free.

How amazing would it be if Sony simply let anyone, anywhere, download the movie for free? What a perfect response that would be to the terrorists who thought that money would be the motivation to get Sony to back down. This would generate an amazing amount of publicity both within the industry and outside. No one would get hurt, and everyone would see the movie.

Release it to everyone for download for a modest fee.

Break the current distribution model and allow anyone to download the movie for a modest fee. I don’t know all the revenue models, but I imagine that more people would download a movie – this movie especially – for $5 than pay $15 to see it in a theater. There would be viewing parties, and the publicity for Sony and the movie would be off the charts.

Release it to the cable systems.

Send it right to FiOS, Xfinity and the other cable systems for distribution on their on-demand systems. This would obviously require revenue share with the distribution channel owners, but it would probably also generate even more revenue than theater ticket sales. A combination of this release and a general download would blend the distribution strategies and allow even more people to see the movie.

See the dawn of a new age in movie distribution.

Let’s face it: With the 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado, this threat and other safety-related concerns, it’s time to revisit moving on from the brick-and-mortar approach to movie distribution. The record industry is upside down trying to deal with iTunes and other music services, so perhaps the movie industry should more proactively embrace the change and continue the evolution to a one-to-one relationship with its customers. It should be done now – before someone comes along and completely disintermediates the entire industry.

Promote the change, have fun with it and recognize that this is a comedy, NOT a political statement.

Instead of taking such a serious position on the situation, let’s treat this more appropriately. This movie is a comedy, a joke, a piece of art meant to make people laugh and nothing more. Switch the promotion to just that. Let’s have viewing parties. Let’s send Seth Rogan and James Franco out to people’s homes to watch the movie with them, to laugh and have fun. Turn it into a contest: Download the movie and win a chance to watch with Seth or James. Send out viewing packages with popcorn, American flags and candy. Make it the biggest premiere in the history of movies. Let’s find a way to have as many people as possible watch this – safely.  

Start Today Tip – Sometimes it takes extreme circumstances to challenge us to create new solutions to old problems. Here is an opportunity for all of us to rally around our way of life and not bend to the will of people who would see us harmed. Here’s hoping for a more creative response from Sony.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.