Brow Beat

Sony Asked Us to Share Footage of the Smurfs: The Lost Village Premiere, and We Said Yes

Every day here at Slate, we do our best to move the cultural conversation forward, trying to determine what our readers need to know to stay on top of the fast-moving worlds of art and entertainment. We pride ourselves on carefully anticipating what stories everyone will be talking about tomorrow and make sure you can find all the crucial information about the topics of the day right here on our site. Usually, we like to think we do a pretty good job. Which makes our decision to post raw B-roll footage from Saturday’s world premiere of Smurfs: The Lost Village all the more baffling, even to ourselves.

The basic facts are not that hard to reconstruct, not that they shed much light on things. On Saturday, Sony Pictures sent us an email with the subject line “SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE Premiere Footage and Images now available at EPK.TV.” Despite the date, this was not a joke: Premiere footage and images really were available on EPK.TV, as we soon discovered. On Wednesday, we selected the clip entitled “Premiere B-Roll,” downloaded it from the electronic press kit website, and uploaded it to Slate unaltered. That’s how it happened. But why did it happen?

Did we think Slate readers would enjoy watching this? Surely not—it’s B-roll, presented without any context or explanation. Were we trying to make a point about how miserable Hollywood events can be? You could sort of make that case: The video is full of sickening lurches and sudden zooms while the audio is a horrible mix of crowd noise, background music, and paparazzi screaming at Meghan Trainor. But if that were the idea, probably we would have accompanied the video with text that made the argument, right? Did we hope Slate readers could use the footage to assemble their own Access Hollywood–type show? Are we using the video to send steganographic messages to spies in foreign lands? Is Sony? Are the Smurfs? Questions lead to more questions, until the very ground beneath our feet seems less and less solid.

Centuries from now, science may be able to tell us what, exactly, the plan was here. Until then, for reasons we may never fully understand, here’s some junket footage of Meghan Trainor answering questions about her work on Smurfs: The Lost Village.