Crackle GM Talks Sony Hack, Says Streamer Is "Not For Sale"

Eric Berger - P 2015
AP Images/Invision

Eric Berger - P 2015

The Sony-owned streaming service announced the premieres of upcoming films 'The Throwaways' and 'Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser.'

Crackle general manager Eric Berger wasted no time addressing the cyberattack waged against parent company Sony Pictures Entertainment during public remarks Tuesday. 

"I'd give you a little background on myself, but since Crackle is part of Sony Pictures, you can do the search online," he joked at the start of the streamer's presentation at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "Only this year you'll find some exciting tidbits, like my salary and my kids' school play schedules." 

Berger attended the annual event to promote upcoming Crackle films The ThrowawaysDead Rising: Watchtower and Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser. Later, after wrapping up a panel with the cast of the Joe Dirt sequel, Berger spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the streamer's push into more original feature films. 

Crackle has deals with a number of studios to stream back catalog and newer release films with advertising. As the streamer has collected data on viewer preferences, it decided to begin developing its own film projects, much in the way it does with original series such as Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

"A big part of what viewers consume on Crackle is movies," he said, explaining that the decision to pick up a Joe Dirt sequel came from how popular the original David Spade flick is on the platform. "It was a really great opportunity to match an original with something we know that people love." 

Berger also addressed the November cyberattack against Sony, which resulted in a slew of leaked documents and emails from the studio. Among the information released were emails that revealed Sony weighed selling a 51 percent stake in Crackle at a total valuation of $200 million, according to Bloomberg. Berger said Sony has ongoing discussions about "growth opportunities" for the streamer, but that it is not for sale. "This is a business that we believe in and want to grow," he explained. "There is continual exploration of growth opportunities, some of them could involve outside financing but some of them may not." 

In the midst of the Sony hack, Crackle announced that it would delay The Throwaways, a cyberterrorism film from executive producer Jeremy Renner that was scheduled to debut Dec. 19. "Given the subject matter, we thought that the timing wasn't right," Berger explained. "We thought the content would get lost in the subject matter. It was just more appropriate to release it at the end of January."

Crackle announced Wednesday that the film, which stars Sam Huntington, will get a Jan. 30 premiere

When Sony began searching for VOD platforms for Seth Rogen and James Franco's The Interview, reports emerged that the studio would take it to Crackle. But Sony ultimately distributed it via YouTube, Google Play, Xbox Live and Given that Crackle is an ad-supported streaming platform, it would not have made sense for Sony to take it there first, Berger said. 

"While there was a lot of discussion in the marketplace about just putting it out there, the company decided to put it through the normal windows," he said. "Ad-supported VOD, which is where Crackle falls, is further down the line. So it's very likely that it could be on Crackle, but in the appropriate window. Just because it's owned by the company doesn't mean you would break the windows of distribution."