2ND UPDATE: Last night, Deadline broke news that a Tweet generated under the Warner Bros Digital banner slammed rival Oscar pic Foxcatcher. Initially, Warner Bros disavowed the Tweet as an imposter, which seemed a bit hard to swallow. Now, the studio has gone the extra mile and gotten to the truth. The Twitter thread was generated through a promotional account by a consultant. Warner Bros Pictures brass, a pretty classy bunch who’ve been embarrassed by all this, has sacked the person behind the Tweet that amplified press reports that Mark Schultz (played in the film by Channing Tatum) has disavowed the movie in his own Twitter and Facebook salvos. Here is the updated statement by Warner Bros: “Earlier today we received a media inquiry about a Twitter post sent under the
handle @WB Digital. The item in question was a retweet of a Business Insider article regarding Sony’s film, Foxcatcher. We looked into the matter but were unable to find any connection between Warner Bros. and the Twitter account. After responding to the inquiry we continued to search for the source of the account and discovered that it was a promotional account directed by a consultant to Warner Bros. The retweet was posted as a general entertainment story, but posting anything that can be seen as a negative comment about one of our competitors is totally unacceptable and contrary to our operating policies. As Sue Kroll, President, Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, said earlier today: “Warner Bros. simply does not do business that way.” The suspended Twitter account will not be reactivated and the consultant is no longer in our employ. We apologize to our friends at Sony.
UPDATED, 12:14PM: Warner Bros now is telling me that the Twitter account that went out under the Warner Bros Digital banner and slagged the Sony Pictures Classics film Foxcatcher is a bogus account, one that the studio has gotten Twitter to hobble. Here’s a statement by the studio: “The account ‘WB Digital’ is not an official Warner Bros. Entertainment account and was an impostor account. Twitter has since removed the account as it is in violation of Twitter rules, specifically Twitter’s rules regarding impersonation.” The spokesman would not elaborate.
The whole thing seems weird. You can’t find that Twitter feed now, but when I looked at it late last night, the feed went back well before Christmas and had developed quite a following, as I recall. In fact, a fawning tweet about Warner Bros’ own Oscar candidate American Sniper was sent out December 19. Apparently, the studio wasn’t aware of the Twitter account purporting to be part of WB Digital that provided mostly flattering tweets about its own projects, until the feed went too far and slammed a rival in the Oscar race. Hey, why does it seem that it’s always Sony Pictures that suffers in these social media shenanigans?
EARLIER, FRIDAY, 9:12 PM PST: The new year has gotten off to an interesting start, with fact-based awards contenders battling controversy over perceived accuracy issues. Some at Sony were surprised tonight to see the Warner Bros Digital Entertainment Group’s WB Digital posting this on Twitter: #Foxcatcher Movie Slammed As ‘Complete Fiction’ By The Olympic Wrestler Who Inspired It. ‘Everything I’ve ever said positive about the movie I take back, I hate it.
Now, I checked the WB Digital site and it sure seems to be WB-product friendly, including one tweet that touted the studio’s own awards-season candidate, American Sniper. That tweet read: #AmericanSniper widow says the film gets it right.
Other tweets included friendly updates about its sister studio product, from the Batman vs Superman movie trailer to news about the DC Comics pic Shazam, and “What You Need to Know About DC Comics Headed into 2015.” The Foxcatcher slam — based on news reports that Mark Schultz lit a Twitter fire after reading reviews that pointed out a sexual connotation to scenes in which the wrestler and twisted scion John du Pont got on the mat — seems out of place compared to the other WB Digital tweets. It hasn’t gone unnoticed at Sony, so it will be interesting to see if the gloves come off and studios use their various partisan media social media messaging outlets to go after one another in what is shaping up to be a wide-open awards season. Warner Bros is a giant company and it’s possible that one part doesn’t know what the other is doing, but the appearance here seems a bit unsavory to me, certainly beneath Warner Bros’ standards to go this route and potentially create a distraction from an exceptionally strong crop of movies in the awards season mix, including Foxcatcher and American Sniper.