The shape of movies to come

The Interview

So The Interview got its public showing on Christmas Day in the United States in spite of hacks on Sony Pictures’ computer systems, angry denials by the North Koreans that they were behind the hacks, and intervention by the US President.

The political comedy film stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists who secure an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (played by Randall Park), and who are then recruited by the CIA and instructed to assassinate him.

In what would have been a farce if the situation hadn’t been so serious, the North Koreans accused the US government of state-sponsored terrorism and said the release of the movie would be an act of war. There were also dire threats by shady online groups during the past few weeks to kill cinema-goers if Sony Pictures did release the R-rated movie.

Well, release it they did in spite of announcing a clear intent in the previous week not to release it at all.

Much of the media reporting I’ve seen focuses on the cinema release – The Interview was showing at 320+ independent cinemas across the United States starting on Christmas Day, with box office takings to date reportedly around $2.8 million.

Yet what I found far more interesting were the other distribution methods Sony Pictures employed to make the movie more widely available. This is how Sony announced the movie’s public availability:

Fans can watch The Interview on several platforms including:

Google Play: the movie is available to buy or rent at play.google.com, and can be watched in the Play Movies & TV app on Android and iOS phones or tablets, or streamed in the living room via Chromecast, Roku or the Nexus Player.

YouTube: the movie is available at youtube.com/movies and can be watched on the web, in the YouTube app, or on select living room devices like Chromecast, Apple TV, PlayStation and Xbox.

Microsoft’s Xbox Video: the movie is available to buy or rent on the Xbox Video app on Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and XboxVideo.com.

SeetheInterview.com: In addition, The Interview is available at the dedicated website www.seetheinterview.com, which is sponsored by Sony Pictures and powered by Kernel and with payments through Stripe, a secure payment platform.

In addition to Google Play, YouTube, Microsoft and www.seetheinterview.com, The Interview is also being released in more than 300 United States theaters on December 25th.

It struck me straightaway that digital and online are front and center in the distribution infrastructure, with the physical (cinema) release very much the supporting act. And, releasing a movie this way – enabling people to access and view it through online rental or purchase – is the first time a major studio has done that on the same day of its cinema release.

Although the US box office has produced the lion’s share of viewing sales so far, it’s being speculated that revenues from the movie on the various digital platforms could potentially make this method likelier for movie distribution in the future, if not for the specific reasons surrounding The Interview.

And let’s not forget one thing – all of this is available only in the United States (of course there are workarounds if you’re outside the US) and it’s an R-rated movie, restricting the audience potential in cinemas at least.

It’s a big hit with content pirates, too.

In any case, could this be a clear signal on what we are likely to see in future for movie releases, whether by big studios or indie producers? I’d say it’s a sure bet that digital and online will play a much more prominent role if not the leading role in future.

Imagine – you want to watch the latest Hollywood film on your 50+-inch Ultra HD TV in the comfort and privacy of home? You have many choices of the delivery methods (see above). Then imagine services like Netflix joining the streaming distribution party.

Or, you want the IMAX or other big-screen experience with the popcorn and cokes? Head to your nearest multiplex with its digital audio-visual immersion.

And all the choices happen at once – no more staggered releases.

Traditional mainstream movie distribution and marketing focused only on the cinema and subsequent Blu-ray/DVD sales just got turned on its head.

Finally, what about the PR surrounding The Interview? There’s been commentary and opinion galore over recent months suggesting the whole thing is just a huge PR stunt, with others offering opinion to explain why it couldn’t possibly be a PR stunt.

How long?

Whether it was or not, one thing is sure – Sony Pictures has gained publicity for a movie that has been panned by critics yet looks very likely to receive widespread attention as a result of all the publicity about it (and the bigger picture about the extensive hacking of Sony Pictures that extends beyond The Interview).

Will I watch The Interview when it’s available here in the UK? Probably, just to see for myself what all the fuss is about. And especially if I can stream it to my TV or computer rather than go to the cinema.

Good PR result.

[Update Dec 29:] The Interview has managed to rake in $15 million since its online debut on Christmas Day, reports Mashable:

“Through Saturday, December 27, including all of its online distribution platforms, The Interview has been rented or purchased online more than 2 million times,” read a statement from Sony Pictures. “Total consumer spending through Saturday for The Interview online is over $15 million.”

“[A]fter only four days, The Interview already ranks as Sony Pictures #1 online film of all time,” read the statement from Sony Pictures.

Recode reports that Apple has now joined the ranks of distributors:

It took Apple a few days, but it’s joining the club: Starting [Sunday December 28], iTunes users in the U.S. and Canada can rent and purchase “The Interview,” Sony’s controversial comedy.

The movie became available at Apple’s store at 1 pm ET [Sunday].

The Interview was a huge online success, says Quartz – but for Google rather than for Sony:

Sony’s big internet video gamble seems to have paid off: The Interview, which the company offered for online rental and purchase on Christmas Eve, earned more than $15 million during its first four days on the internet. The film was rented or purchased more than 2 million times from Dec. 24-27, making it the studio’s most successful online release ever, while also grossing an additional $2.85 million from 331 independent North American theaters over the four-day holiday weekend.

[…] The film’s online success might be a qualified moral victory for Sony, but it definitely won’t be a financial one—and that’s even before calculating the significant financial fallout from the hacking scandal, which could be as much as $100 million.

Instead, the biggest winners from the weekend are the internet outlets that first streamed The Interview in North America. Google’s two sites—Google Play and YouTube Movies—were responsible for the bulk of sales, and Google also benefitted from exposing its platforms to consumers who regularly choose iTunes, or other VOD platforms that did not carry the film.

Undoubtedly further analysis will come in the following days.

Movie marketing with imagination comes to LinkedIn with Taken 3

Taken 3 LinkedIn

Promoting a new movie across the social web nowadays is an integral part of most movie marketing as the film studios and distributors try to get their movie of the moment talked up and shared online. The ultimate goal is more ticket sales and great viewing numbers at the cinema.

There’s also the subsequent revenue and brand opportunities with merchandising and streaming/sales of digital and disc versions of the film once the cinema run is over.

Buzz-building across the social web as an integral part of executing on the marketing plan can have a powerful effect over the long term.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are the typical mainstays of such activity. A social network that wouldn’t naturally spring to mind when you think of consumer movie marketing is LinkedIn.

Yet, why not if you have the right movie with the right messaging and marketing well suited to a business network?

That’s what 20th Century Fox is doing with Taken 3, the final episode in the action movie trilogy starring Liam Neesen that hits cinemas worldwide in January 2015.

Watch this video and see Neeson himself explaining what LinkedIn has to do with this…

What it boils down to is a contest – follow the Taken 3 LinkedIn showcase page, make sure the Skills section of your own profile highlights “your particular set of skills,” and wait and see if you’ve won the prize.

If you’ve watched previous Taken movies, you’ll know that the Neeson character sets great store on a “particular set of skills.”

The prize includes Liam Neeson in his Bryan Mills character endorsing “your particular set of skills” on LinkedIn, recording a video of him doing so. Specifically:

A custom video including Liam Neeson that includes elements of the Grand Prize winner’s LinkedIn profile information and the user’s skills as listed in their LinkedIn Skills section. This video will be shared with the user and will be posted to 20th Century Fox-owned or managed social channels, which may include: LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and/or other websites.

That video will undoubtedly form a further element of the movie marketing leading up to the film’s opening in cinemas in the US on January 8 (and here’s the spoiler – the contest is open only to US residents). And of course, raise the profile of the contest winner across the social web.

It demonstrates some great imagination to make use of a primary business social network in a way that’s bound to attract quite some attention (including people writing blog posts about it like this one).

But get cracking – the contest closes at a minute to midnight US Pacific time on December 23.

(Via Entrepreneur.com)

Astounding Psy

PSYWhen it looked like it would exceed one billion views on YouTube by the summer of 2012, Korean singer Psy’s Gangnam Style headed into the record books for the sheer number of people who have watched the video and heard the music.

Today, it’s become the most watched video on YouTube of all time.

Now, says YouTube, it exceeds two billion views and, as a result, Google has devoted more servers to handle the traffic.

Reshared post from YouTube on Google+:

We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer (=2,147,483,647 views), but that was before we met PSY. “Gangnam Style” has been viewed so many times we have to upgrade!

Hover over the counter in PSY’s video to see a little math magic and stay tuned for bigger and bigger numbers on YouTube.

Why not add your view to the counter. Even if you’ve already watched it, it’s catchy!

#Socialnomics 2014: A lot happened in five years

Hello 4 Cs of Digital...

A popular video in corporate presentations, seminars, webinars and other events aimed at educating business people about social media is Social Media Revolution, published in 2009 by author Erik Qualman to support his best-selling book, Socialnomics.

Since 2009, the video has been updated a few times to take into account how social media is evolving along with what people do with social media and how they use it. I’ve used them all myself, quite a lot, in business workshops and meetings.

I was reminded of the original video just this week when I heard the catchy Right Here, Right Now” soundtrack by Fatboy Slim during a marketing presentation at a company I was visiting. While the video is indeed a compelling audio-visual experience, the content isn’t wholly up-to-date any longer and misses quite a bit of what’s happening today. A lot has evolved and changed in five years.

If you are still using it, or any of the subsequent updates to it up to 2013, stop and get hold of the latest version, published this month. It’s called #Socialnomics 2014. (There’s a good indicator of changes over five years – the title itself is a hashtag now.)

#Socialnomics 2014 Video from Erik Qualman on Vimeo.

As with the previous versions, #Socialnomics 2014 has its own share of memorable metrics, like these that are pretty contemporary:

  • In ten years, 40 percent of the Fortune 500 will no longer be here.
  • More people own a mobile device than a toothbrush.
  • One in five divorces involves social media.
  • “What happens in Vegas stays in…” now reflects newer social channels such as Instagram, Pinterest, Weibo and Snapchat, to add to a steadily-growing list.
  • Each day, 20 percent of the terms typed into Google have never been searched before.
  • “Selfie” is  now a word in Webster’s dictionary.
  • Every second, two new members join LinkedIn.
  • Grandparents are the fastest-growing demographic on Twitter.
  • 53 percent of people on Twitter recommend products in their tweets.
  • 93 percent of shoppers’ buying decisions are influenced by social media.
  • 90 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations (only 14 percent trusts ads).
  • The average person has a seven-second attention span – that of the average goldfish is eight seconds.
  • Goodbye 4 Ps of marketing (product, place, price, promotion), and hello 4 Cs of digital (creating, curating, connecting, culture).

The focus of everything is American so bear that in mind in terms of how many of the metrics may or may not be credible when applied to different countries.

Still, it’s a highly useful and practical look at a constantly-evolving landscape where tools like this offer an entertaining way to get up to speed with what’s happening.

Incidentally, the soundtrack is Around the World by Daft Punk. As good as the Fatboy Slim one? You’ll have to watch and listen to decide.

Definitely worth your time.

Instagramming NYFW

New York Fashion Week via The Verge

A frequent topic over the past year on the FIR podcast that my co-host Shel Holtz and I have pondered and discussed is the rise of visual communication.

A key reference point for us was the interview we did in August 2012 with Brian McNely on Instagram as a medium for image-power and his research with case histories on what brands do with Instagram.

Today, video has come up alongside static images with tools like Vine and Instagram’s video feature that make it incredibly easy and simple for anyone to capture six or fifteen seconds respectively of action on a smartphone and instantly share it with a small group – or the world – online.

This theme grabbed my attention this week when I saw what was happening on and from the catwalk at New York Fashion Week.

Take a look at a short video by brusselssprout_in_manhattan who says:

For New York Fashion Week, @tommyhilfiger introduced the first ever runway show InstaMeet. I was happy to be one of the 20 Instagrammers chosen to attend & document the event.

Check out the video:

As The Verge noted in its report:

[…] No one should come away surprised; fashion tends to bring the amateur photographer out in people, and the runways are by now no stranger to the blue glow of smartphone screens. Official attendees needed only to guide where those photos went to try to make them more meaningful.

Bold text is my emphasis.

There’s no better example of that guidance The Verge speaks of than this video report by retail, and shopping obsessive Racked in its video report, All Hail the Screens: How Instagram Has Shaped NYFW:

Screens, whether on phones or pads, have become ubiquitous in the front row at New York Fashion Week, especially since Instagram’s launch in 2010. Faced with a wall of screens at every show, Racked journeyed to Hilfiger’s NYFW ‘InstaMeet’, went backstage at Kenneth Cole and spoke with industry longtimer Mickey Boardman of Paper Magazine to see how the industry is reacting to the glut of social media, and how sharing sites might be changing fashion week for the better.

Imagination applied. Along with a great deal of structure and guidance.

More possibilities with extended-time live video from Google+

Live Hangouts On Air

Wow – now you can do a Google Hangout On Air (a live video broadcast) for up to 8 hours!

That’s a huge amount of additional time from the previous 1-hour-maximum you had. And remember: up to 8 hours means just that – you don’t have to do 8 whole hours.

Oh what possibilities! Here are just 4:

  1. A live idea-a-thon to flesh out thinking and ideas for brand engagement via live participation with brand owners, customers and fans on the social web.
  2. Live segments over a set period with different people talking about different aspects of a topic.
  3. Live broadcast everything in a one-day conference or other event.
  4. Be very creative and experiment with your movie idea via “live TV over the web”.

Plus you get a recording of everything you do that gets published on your YouTube channel, and which you can edit.

How can you see opportunities?

Reshared post from +Tom Batkin

8 hours Rolled out!

You will see a Notification box above the start broadcast button in the green room

Hopefully you will not look as serious as I do in this selfie…..Note to self , smile next time

Big thanks to +Dawn R Nocera for letting me know where the notification was located

#hangouts   #hangoutsonair   #TheYearOfThePlus

cc +Ronnie Bincer ?

(Via Krishna De)