EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures right now is starting the process that will scrap the rest of the TV campaign spend to promote The Interview. This occurred after the major theater chains announced they aren’t going to show the movie in theaters, in light of the terror threat that was delivered yesterday as part of the Sony Pictures hack attack. It makes perfect sense: Why promote a movie that audiences aren’t going to get to see in theaters?
Sony hasn’t gotten far enough to determine what it will do with the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy, but even if the studio saves some of the P&A budget it hadn’t spent yet on the film, it still is on the hook for probably $60 million to $70 million in production and marketing costs. Depending on what the overseas prospects are for the comedy — or whether these hackers distribute the film online — that is going to be a painful hit on the bottom line, no doubt about it.
Since the majority of funds are spent for commercials to run in the days before the release, Sony at least can salvage some of those funds. But a lot has already been spent. According to tracking data from iSpot.tv, Sony has spent $20.5 million in national television spots alone. Not factored in are the ubiquitous billboards and radio and online promotional campaigns.
If the release is merely postponed, the buys can be restored, though it seems there will be no shortage of awareness on the film. It is plastered on buses and billboards all over Hollywood right now. Let’s see how quickly those go down.