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Here are the best parts of the leaked budget for “The Interview,” North Korea’s least favorite movie

Steve Jennings

We still don’t know who is behind the devastating hack of Sony Pictures, which has released thousands of confidential documents and sensitive personnel files from the Hollywood mega-studio into the open. Sony Pictures and the FBI are reportedly investigating multiple possible entry points into the studio’s systems, including illicit access through a disgruntled current or former Sony employee.

The most colorful scenario, by far, is one that officials aren’t yet ruling out: the possibility that Sony Pictures was hacked by North Korean agents as retribution for The Interview, a soon-to-be-released comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. The movie’s plot concerns an assassination attempt on the life of Kim Jong Un, the hermit kingdom’s supreme leader, and news of the movie’s impending release had outraged North Korean officials. The country’s anger about the movie, it is speculated, could have prompted the hack.

We’ve been poring through the Sony Pictures documents all week, noting executive salaries, gender pay disparities, and hacked data from a major accounting firm. And recently, we came across another fascinating document: the production budget for The Interview, the very film that may have set the hack in motion.

Movie budgets are highly confidential, due to the many suppliers and celebrities they involve, and the exorbitant price tags on some of the materials and services. But there it was in the leaked archives, in between HR documents, marketing plans, and healthcare summaries. We’ve embedded excerpts from the budget below, so you can take your own look at the inner workings of the movie that may (emphasis: may) have put Sony Pictures at the center of one of the biggest cyber-crimes ever to hit corporate America.

A few highlights from the 210-page document:

  • The Interview‘s total budget ended up being $44 million.
  • Seth Rogen and James Franco were both paid $6.5 million to star in the movie, which was shot in Vancouver. Rogen also got a “perk fund” totaling $20,000, and additional money for directing and producing the movie, bringing his total haul to $8.4 million.
  • Rogen and Franco appear to have gotten paid to drive themselves to work. Lines in the budget that read “S. ROGEN SELF DRIVE” and “J. FRANCO SELF DRIVE” are listed with costs of $9,500 and $6,000, respectively.
  • Beyoncé and Jay-Z made cameos in the film (for which they were paid $10,000 apiece, and given first-class plane tickets). Which seems reasonable.
  • Kevin Federline made a cameo, too, but only got $5,000 for his troubles. Which does not seem reasonable.
  • There are four roles in the film named “Hot Korean Girl,” and one named simply “Korean Girl.” Luckily, all got paid the same amount.
  • Sony Pictures hired both a “Korean advisor” and “military advisor” for the film.
  • The studio hired a drone pilot for aerial shots, at a cost of $2,658.
  • Zooey Deschanel, Michael Vick, Sylvester Stallone, Brad Pitt, and Neil Patrick Harris are all listed on the budget, perhaps as extras.
  • A list of shot requirements on p. 85 reads like a bizarre extended haiku. (“TANK FIRES, TANK ROUND IMPACTS, YU SHOT, KOH POOS, ORANGE FALLS FROM BASKET, HE RIPS OFF SOOK’S BLOUSE. SHE RIPS OFF…”)
  • There will apparently be two tigers on set, complete with veterinarian, trainers, and a “tiger accommodation.” Total cost: nearly $74,000.

$44 million may sound like a lot of money to Hollywood outsiders, but keep in mind that it’s much less than Sony Pictures has put up for other projects. (The studio spent a reported $150 million on the 2013 flop After Earth.) And all the tigers and driving allowances will look puny compared to the money Sony Pictures will spend dealing with the fallout from the film, if in fact it did prompt a North Korean cyberattack.

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