A video of Tom Hanks promoting Sony at an International CES keynote in 2009 — in which he appeared to be trolling the comedy and trashing his pre-written script — suddenly went viral this week, more than 10 years after the fact.
At the annual electronics industry confab, held every January in Las Vegas, major consumer electronics companies often hire celebrities to participate in their keynote presentations. Sony, as an electronics conglomerate that also owns a movie studio, will often bring out the stars of upcoming Sony movies. That’s what happened in 2009, when Hanks was promoting his movie Angels & Demons, which was scheduled for release the following May.
In the full 12-minute speech, which remains on GameSpot’s YouTube channel, Hanks mocked Gary Shapiro, the head of CES and producer of the Consumer Technology Association, and also commented on the script that had been written for him. He joked that he was there because of “Betamax regret,” a joke about the Sony-backed technology that lost a format war to VHS in the 1980s.
A snippet of the video went viral this week, after it was posted to Twitter by Film Talk Society editor Marcelo J. Pico. That video saw Hanks mocking the notion, which was in his pre-written text, that he sees the word “Sony” everywhere on film sets. He also heavily implied that his contract for the movie required him to do the CES appearance.
— The A.V. Club (@TheAVClub) June 24, 2019
Hanks’ speech, for whatever reason, did not draw mainstream attention in 2009. Five years later, however, another incident in a CES keynote did. Director Michael Bay of the Transformers films appeared at a Samsung keynote in 2014, but after the TelePrompTer stopped working, he ran off stage, per Deadline.
The Daily Telegraph, in their coverage of the Sony keynote in 2009, did not reference Hanks’ tone in any way, although it did discuss the moment when Sir Howard Stringer, then Sony’s CEO, had Hanks try on 3D glasses.
Even with two Oscars, Tom Hanks couldn't get through the 2009 CES Sony presentation he was contractually obligated to do with a straight face pic.twitter.com/UAXzJ30rgx
— Midsommarcelo (@MarceloJPico) June 24, 2019
“Sir Howard invited Mr. Hanks to try out special glasses which project 3D images onto the lens while still allowing the wearer to see around them,” The Telegraph said. “He said 3D technology, which has so far failed to take off, will soon be available on TV screens worldwide.”
A lot of people had a fun laugh at the speech, but there was also a small amount of backlash.
“So cool of him to humiliate the writer in front of his family, eager to hear the great Hanks read his words,” a Twitter user named Skeleton Realm said.
This led to a particularly angry back-and-forth on Twitter that culminated in the threat of lawsuits.