This Sony email hack-attack story has certainly fed the media well, since the initial leak. For our part, we shared news of the studio’s plans for a "Men in Black"/"Jump Street" crossover movie (revealed via email exchanges), which I couldn’t quite make sense of; and now there’s this…
According to a Daily Beast exclusive, Sony also has (or maybe I should say "had") interest in a Destiny’s Child biopic. In a December 2013 group email from Screen Gems chief Clint Culpepper to Sony Co-Chairman Amy Pascal and other Sony execs, they discussed Beyoncé’s father, Matthew Knowles’ attempts to set up a Destiny’s Child biopic at the studio. Although there seemed to be some initial trepidation from Culpepper, the Daily Beast piece adds that, responses from the other Sony execs were "very enthusiastic" about the idea. No word, however, on whether this is a project that’s still of interest to the studio. Culpepper does state that Papa Knowles planned to also approach Universal Pictures about the project – I assume, to put some pressure on Sony to make a decision (as in, "if you’re not interested, I’ll take it somewhere else").
Also revealed in the leaked emails is a Kanye West feature film – although not a biopic. The email is much more recent than the one containing the Destiny’s Child news. From an August 2014 exchange between Kanye’s West’s assistant, Elon Rutberg, and Sony head-honcho Amy Pascal: "I supervise all of Kanye’s film and media projects, and we have a major film project coming up that involves both cinematic and technological innovation, so I naturally thought Sony and wanted to reach out […] We premiered a multi-screen cinema experience to great response at Cannes 2012, and are looking to take the storytelling to the next level with a feature length film, shot for an immersive cinema experience.”
Long-time readers of this blog will recall our coverage of that Cannes 2012 event, during which West screened a short film he directed (calling it an "art film") titled "Cruel Summer." The so-called immersive 7-screen experience, inspired by the G.O.O.D. Music album "Cruel Summer," premiered at Cannes (though not in the festival’s official lineup). The fusion film and art installation was seen at the time as unlike anything West had attempted before.
The film was actually reviewed quite well by those who were present, with words like "groundbreaking" and "striking," praising West for his "great visual sense" and attempts to "completely change the way movies are watched."
I don’t believe it was ever released for the rest of the world to see; at least, I couldn’t find it online. If you know otherwise, share in the comments section below.
No word on whether Sony is interested in this "major film project," and whether there’s indeed another "groundbreaking" Kanye West film – this time long-form – in our future, as he furthers his aspirations to "take storytelling to the next level."
Although the emails also revealed that West will appear in a Christmas Eve film from director Jonathan Levine, starring Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. From an August 2014 exchange between producer James Weaver, Rogen and Amy Pascal: "We’ll have an XMAS tease for 2015. We have a specific idea to attach to THE INTERVIEW that will crush. Seth, Joe, and [Anthony] Mackie reenacting the scene from BIG on the floor piano at FAO Schwartz with KANYE WEST. It’s fucking awesome."
The irony here is that, "The Interview" (a Sony/Columbia Pictures release) is likely what led to the email hack-attack, that then led to these email leaks, whose contents the entire world is now aware of. In case you haven’t been following, North Korea has been vehemently opposed to the release of "The Interview" (it’ll be out on December 25), because the comedic plot centers around the attempted assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. North Korean officials reportedly condemned the film, promising "stern" and "merciless" retaliation if it is ever released. I doubt that Sony’s is cowering at these threats, and the film’s release will likely go ahead as scheduled. And I’m guessing North Korea probably believed the same, which led to a group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" – hackers with alleged links to North Korea, although North Korea has denied any responsibility, but did praise the crippling cyber-attack against the studio – effectively paralyzing the studio’s computer network. The group has claimed responsibility for the email hacks (and other related disruptions, which include threatening Sony employees with knowledge of family information, and the will to act on said information), and has demanded that the release of the film be halted. I’d assume that, given what they’ve already been able to accomplish, they plan to follow through with their threats, if Sony doesn’t comply.
What will Sony do now?
I must say, this all sounds like a potentially riveting plot for a Sony movie!! So I’ll look for the studio to option the rights to its own cyber war with North Korea, with maybe Will Smith starring, since he’s made a lot of movies with them.
But seriously… I’m really curious to see how this game of chess ends. Who will blink first? Will Sony yank the film before its release? And if not, what next might the "Guardians of Peace" do? Will North Korea follow through on its promises of "stern" and merciless" retaliation? And if so, what exactly would that look like?
More at 11…
In the meantime, feel free to dish on a Destiny’s Child biopic, as well as Kanye West’s feature length "immersive" cinema experience, or his potential "fucking awesome" tease in "The Interview."