Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara has aired misgivings about not being supportive of fellow studio Sony Pictures as the company was ravaged by the hack that saw its data leak.
“It all happened so fast, and I would say for myself, because I can’t speak for the industry, we could have, and should have done more, for Michael (Lynton, Sony chairman) and Sony,” he said at the Code Media conference Wednesday in Dana Point, Calif. “But you get caught up in ‘Is this going to become Whack-a-Mole? How do I say this in a way that’s supportive without seeming self-serving?’ When you get lawyers and people in the room, things don’t happen.”
Tsujihara made his comments months after studios including Warner Bros. and the Motion Picture Assn. of America came under fire for not standing together with Sony. George Clooney in particular went public with such criticism, suggesting his efforts to get studios to sign a petition sympathetic with Sony was rebuffed, though he did not single out WB.
“It’s not a zero-sum game,” said Tsujihara. “In certain respects you want to see all of us in the industry healthy. When you see one of the competitors down, you want to help them up.”
Tsujihara said the Sony incident has prompted WB to review its security measures, but acknowledged there’s only so much that can be done in circumstances such as those Sony faced.
“I don’t think what we’ve seen or heard that it was caused by lax security,” he said of the Sony hack. “On the contrary, what we’ve heard and seen is that if someone is determined to, depending on the resources that were expended to get into Sony, just about everybody is vulnerable.”
Tsujihara noted that heightened security concerns even translated to preparations for a movie premiere. “Tonight we’re doing a premiere of ‘American Sniper’ in Paris, and given what happened there, we were very concerned about the statement the movie makes and the security.”
While Tsujihara admitted that he was unsure whether he would have greenlit “The Interview” were he the studio chief charged with making the decision, he conceded that the growing importance of overseas box office changes the calculus for creative decisions.
“I think the one thing that is constantly going through our mind is, obviously, how is this going to be perceived in the international marketplace,” he said. “The international piece of our business has grown significantly, and obviously you have to take that into account when you greenlight a movie.”
But Tsujihara also suggested that the release of “The Interview” was such a “unique situation” that it won’t necessarily throw open the floodgates for a day-and-date release of future movies.
“I think the fact that a movie had had a significant amount of publicity because of that unfortunate incident is not going to be proof positive that the model works or doesn’t work,” he said.
Tsujihara’s comments came in a Q&A with Re/code senior editor of media Peter Kafka.