Times Square Video Screen Hacked with an iPhone

I didn’t post about it when I first saw it because I suspected a hoax. Turns out, I was right. It wasn’t even two guys faking hacking a Times Square video screen. It was a movie studio faking two guys faking hacking a Times Square video screen.

Posted on March 21, 2011 at 12:57 PM17 Comments


Brandioch Conner March 21, 2011 1:18 PM

From TFA:
“They believe that you can get the public more interested in a product by starting a conversation than with a traditional advertisement. Does it work? Well, you’re reading this, aren’t you?”

But I’m not reading that because I’m interested in the movie. I probably won’t go to see the movie.

I’m reading that to see what is happening in faked videos being used by corporations.

Now that the “secret” is out, will interest drop because it is “solved”? And will the movie flop as a result?

Or will the studio fall back to traditional advertising?

No One March 21, 2011 1:40 PM

Dammit. I wanted to see that film after seeing the trailer, but now that I know they tried advertising it with some fake viral crap I can’t give them my money…

moo March 21, 2011 2:26 PM

I don’t go see anything with a tomatometer rating as low as 65% unless it is recommended to me by people I personally know and whose movie tastes I trust. Generally I’ll go see anything “on a whim” if its tomatometer rating is 90% or higher. If the rating is between 70% and 90% and the subject matter interests me, I watch previews or read reviews first.

Nick P March 21, 2011 2:43 PM

“It was a movie studio faking two guys faking hacking a Times Square video screen.”

Wow, that was a mouthful huh? With that many people faking it, you’d think a woman wrote it. 😉

Rich- March 21, 2011 3:53 PM

It’s like the solution to the old Physics 101 question, “How could you use a barometer to determine the height of a building?”

1) Take the barometer to the building basement.
2) Find the building’s engineer.
3) Say, “I’ll give you this nice barometer if you’ll let me look at the blueprints.”

Rich- March 21, 2011 3:58 PM

P.S. The remaining question: did the studio get a kickback from Apple for using an iPhone rather than an Android phone? That would partly subsidize renting the Times Square screen.

No One March 21, 2011 5:45 PM

@moo: I can’t use RT at all to gauge action flicks because some of my favorite action flicks score in the 60/70s. My favorite film of all time scores 60% from critics, 75% from audience. (It’s not an action flick.) “Cerebral” films (as in films that critics refer to as very intelligent and mindbending) tend to over-score on RT in my view, whereas films that actually require me to think to piece together at the end (assuming that was the intent) score very low on RT by critics. Even when you look at the bottom hundred listing there exist films there that I enjoy watching. (Not that I call good, but are fun to watch.)

All-in-all, I think film critics suck and I know I don’t always match the audience’s expectations, so though RT is fun to check up on, it’s very hit-or-miss for me.

pointless_hack March 21, 2011 5:59 PM

They’re “promoting a whole new mindset,” where we (the public) suspend disbelief of ANYTHING they put in an advertisement. Hope it doesn’t work. As “hacker” footage goes, I’m encouraged. So far the Swedish “Girl with the dragon tattoo,” trilogy is the best “hacker” footage I’ve seen. Compare at real-life “Ophcrack,” and the “Armitage” GUI. It’s about time Hollywood updated the whole “hacker,” ethos. As an ad? “idk”

Jessica W. March 21, 2011 6:01 PM

so what about the 90% of the comments that are positive? you picked only the negative things to support your own point of view. this is the dumbest post on one of the greatest viral campaigns ever.

tommy March 22, 2011 2:37 AM

@ MODERATOR: Spam is one thing. The post above (at the moment) by “Pearl Hsia” isn’t spam, it’s a SCAM. Please check the link in the signature yourself, and remove “Pearl’s” post, to protect Bruce’s good reputation (and ours!). Thanks.

Oh, yeah, something witty to say about the article: With the ability to virtualize anything these days, is there ever really any case where we can be sure what is real anymore? … lots of movies on that theme, but it’s now true. Be afraid… be very afraid. (Or at least, be skeptical… very skeptical.)

@ Nick P.: So, your “bad boy” side finally comes out (so to speak)! LOL! (Next, you’ll be telling us that porn flix aren’t actual depictions of reality???)

Clive Robinson March 22, 2011 2:57 AM

OFF Topic,

It would appear that “Stuxnet” “is coming home”…

Over the past few days responsible SCADA system owners nightmares have come to be, many “zero day” attacks and even a vulnerability code generator have been released,


It looks like this security neglected backwater that controls most utilities and manufacturing facilities (including the odd Nuclear Reactor) has come of age and joined the “big boys” of OS’s…

oldster March 22, 2011 9:05 AM

“Hacking” a video display in Times Square?

Didn’t “Razor” and “Blade” do that about 15 years ago?

No One March 22, 2011 9:12 AM

Razor and Blade? They’re flakes!

@Jessica: But who’s making the positive comments and who’s making the negative comments? I have a sneaking suspicion that technical people (the vast minority in general, but the majority here) are the ones with the negative comments.

Fake hacks are worse than not trying to hack at all.

Dirk Praet March 22, 2011 6:16 PM

I’m not surprised movie studios are resorting to this type of advertising to make an impression. Ever since “The Net”, everybody is running away from so-called hacker flicks faster than a cheetah leaving a salad bar.

The marketing budget would have been much better spent hiring Bruce as a scenario consultant and advertising his eagerly anticipated new book on the Times Square screen.

Davi Ottenheimer March 22, 2011 6:51 PM

@Dirk Praet

“faster than a cheetah leaving a salad bar”

Funny, not sure what that really means, but I have an image in my head of cheetahs sneaking up to slow-moving prey standing around a salad bar.

salad eater, and flesh too March 23, 2011 12:39 PM


I think it was analogy showing the lack of interest a meat-eating mammal has in a food he normally does not eat.

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