5. Sony Creates Fictitious Film Critic
Date: July 2000
What does a film studio do when its films receive piss poor reviews and are at huge risk of bombing at the box office? If it's Sony, it creates a fake film critic named David Manning, credits him to a small Connecticut newspaper called the Ridgefield Press, and makes sure he gives every film under the Columbia Pictures imprint glowing reviews. The scheme stemmed from a marketing executive at Sony Pictures Entertainment, but was foiled after Newsweek reporter John Horn played investigator and discovered the Ridgefield Press never heard of him. Once the scandal broke, Sony apologized to the newspaper, and in a 2005 class action lawsuit against the company, it reached a settlement of $1.5 million and refunded $5 to anyone who felt manipulated by the bogus reviews and paid to see Hollow Man, The Animal, The Patriot, A Knight's Tale, or Vertical Limit. That's still not enough for enduring a Rob Schneider comedy.