Warner Bros. "Should Have Done More" to Help Sony After Hack, Says CEO

Kevin Tsujihara - H 2013
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Kevin Tsujihara - H 2013

Kevin Tsujihara said he isn't sure whether or not his studio would have made 'The Interview,' which is widely believed to have prompted the hack.

Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara believes his company should have done more to help Sony after the studio suffered a massive cyberattack late last year tied to the release of comedy The Interview

"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] and for Sony," he said on stage during the Code/Media conference in Dana Point, Calif. 

When moderator Peter Kafka asked whether Warner Bros. would have made The Interview, he said he didn't know, but did note that when making movies "one thing that's constantly going through our mind is how this will be perceived in the international marketplace." 

Following the North Korean hack of Sony's computer system, which revealed troves of private emails and other internal documents, Warner Bros. has taken steps to protect itself, Tsujihara said. "We're doing a number of different things to try and protect what happens if someone gets hit," he said. "We've all been attacked at some level." 

The subsequent VOD release of The Interview has been hailed as a sign that the film industry is moving toward shortening the theatrical window, but Tsujihara said that's not necessarily the case. "That was a pretty unique situation," he said, also admitting that the industry needs to address audience's growing desire for on-demand viewing. "I don't think we need The Interview to tell us that there's an opportunity to capture." 

Speaking generally about the film window, Tsujihara said that studios have to "support our exhibitors," but he also noted that the industry "hasn't done a good enough job of capturing the value that consumers are willing to pay, whether it's in movie theaters or at home. We need to do a better job of adapting to consumers and what they want." 

If the industry doesn't adapt, he continued, audiences will turn to available options such as piracy, which would create more financial strain.

On the television front, Tsujihara said the proliferation of on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon creating original content is creating more choices for creatives and consumers. "I think that everybody's looking at this and evaluating it," he added. 

Warner Bros. has been one of the studios to enter into the short-form video space through an investment in gaming-focusing YouTube network Machinima in March 2014. But while other studios have acquired MCNs — Disney bought Maker Studios last year and DreamWorks Animation owns a majority stake in AwesomenessTV — Tsujihara says Warners has been more cautious. "The big thing is that we haven't been able to figure out the right model and how to, quite frankly, make money from owning some of these networks at this point in time," he said. "We clearly see the audience moving. We clearly see that's where we need to go."