This Sony hack business has hit the skids. We were all surprised to learn how the hackers’ main motivation was to stop The Interview, a satircal film about the assassination of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. The hackers threatened a 9/11-like attack over a silly James Franco and Seth Rogen movie. The Department of Homeland Security didn’t find evidence of a credible threat, but those associated with the movie grew nervous. Tonight’s NYC premiere was cancelled, as were other press events. Now Sony has dropped the hammer on The Interview. The film has been pulled from its planned Christmas Day release. Sony didn’t have much of a choice at this point, as the top five theater circuits (including Regal, AMC, and Cinemark) all decided not to show the movie. Here’s Sony’s official statement:
“In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.
“Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale — all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”
Sony added that it has “no further plans” to release the film, either on VOD or DVD. Sony likely made this addendum for insurance purposes. If they claim a total loss, insurance may cover the entire cost of pulling the film. People are really upset about because Sony allowed itself to be censored by the hackers. But it was the only decision they could make, you know? A terrorist attack on a theater would be much more financially devastating than losing one movie. Not only would there be loss of life, but an attack would stop people from going to the movies altogether. It could hurt the entire movie industry.
The US government has been working on the hack. It announced last night “that the North Korean government was ‘centrally involved’ in the recent attacks on Sony Pictures’s computers.” It’s unusual for the US to make a conclusive, accusatory statement like this, but that’s what happened. Neither Sony nor the US has ruled out “the possibility that the attackers may have had some inside help.”
The Interview isn’t the only movie affected by its cancellation. Deadline says plans for a Steve Carell film have been scrapped, as it was set in North Korea.
Twitter lit up with the cancellation news. Many people are outraged at North Korea being allowed to quash freedom of expression and speech from across the globe. Rogen and Franco have remained quiet on the situation, but Rob Lowe (who is in the movie) tweeted his disappointment: “Everyone caved. The hackers won. An utter and complete victory for them.” Oh, and the Alamo Theater in Dallas will fight back by airing Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Team America (the satire that focuses upon Kim Jong-il) on Christmas Day.
Movie stills courtesy of Sony/Columbia Pictures; photo courtesy of WENN