'Hereafter' debuted on DVD and Blu-ray here in America this week, and now The Hollywood Reporter posts that Warner Bros. will donate an unspecified amount from the home video sales to the Japanese Red Cross Society. Sources say the donation should be in the million-dollar range.
Disney is also set to join in, with plans to give the American Red Cross $2.5 million toward relief efforts in the battered country. Disney CEO Robert Iger states the company will match employee donations, up to one million dollars, to certain charitable organizations.
We hate to be cynical about charitable donations, particularly when Japan's situation is so dire and they need all the help they can get, but the Warner Bros. offer feels a little self-serving to us. Hit the jump to find out why.
While it's great that Hollywood studios want to jump in and use some of their wealth to help the Japanese people (home to the world's second largest film market, by the way), Warner's decision to tie their donation to sales of 'Hereafter' feels wrong.
'Hereafter' underperformed at the box office. The Matt Damon film had a production budget of $50 million dollars, but only took in $32 million. Undoubtedly, Warner Bros. is hoping to get into the black with sales on the home market. Playing on people's charitable nature by giving part of the proceeds from the sales of the discs to Japan feels sort of slimy. Yes, it's nice that the folks at Warner Bros. want to help, but they stand to potentially benefit from their seemingly altruistic act. How many more copies of 'Hereafter' will the studio sell now that people know part of their purchase price is going to help folks in desperate need? We're guessing it will probably be more than the million dollars Warners is set to donate. Pretty sneaky, WB. You get good press for a humanitarian act and you get an under-performing film on the road to profitability. Win-win.
Honestly, if Warners really wants to help Japan (and we believe they do), they should follow Disney's lead and simply make a donation to the Japanese Red Cross Society and match employee donations to a certain point. Tying their donation to the sales of a DVD and Blu-ray disc for a movie that dramatizes a tragic event comparable to what the Japanese people have just endured feels like a decision motivated by the bottom line and one made in relatively poor taste.
What do you guys think? Are we making a big deal out of nothing or does Warner Bros. donation seem at least somewhat self-serving?