Theaters Around The Country Are Pulling 'The Interview' Over Terror Threats
Just yesterday, the group claiming to be the masterminds behind the massive Sony cyberattack issued a terror threat warning movie-goers that it would be in their best interest to avoid theaters showing The Interview. And now major movie theaters around the country are pulling the film in fear of an attack.
Carmike Cinemas, a large Georgia-based theater chain, was the first to announce on Wednesday that they wouldn't be showing The Interview at their theaters, according to Deadline. Following in the same footsteps, Bow Tie Cinema said today that they'll also be pulling the movie in its New York, Virginia, Colorado and Connecticut locations.
While employees of ArcLight Cinemas—which has locations throughout SoCal including Hollywood, Sherman Oaks and Pasadena—told Deadline that they also wouldn't be playing The Interview, a corporate rep later told the trade website late last night that they haven't made up their minds yet on whether they'll be showing the film.
Los Angeles' Cinefamily is taking a different approach. The nonprofit that shows films at the historic Silent Movie Theatre in the Fairfax District, tweeted on Wednesday, "If @ArcLightCinemas won't show The Interview, we will."
They share the same sentiments with filmmaker Judd Apatow, who tweeted:
I am not going to let a terrorist threat shut down freedom of speech. I am going to The Interview.— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) December 17, 2014
However, they added that they first needed to check if Sony would release the film to them. The Interview's release date is scheduled for Christmas day, and while Cinefamily has scheduled a threepeat showing of holiday favorite, It's a Wonderful Life, they would happily forgo those for screenings of The Interview:
It does humor me we would have to cancel ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE to play THE INTERVIEW. But a theatre's gotta do, what a theatre's gotta do.— The Cinefamily (@cinefamily) December 17, 2014
The hacking group, dubbed Guardians of Peace (or #GOP), gave moviegoers a cryptic message that they should "Remember the 11th of September 2001" in regards to viewing The Interview at theaters. Sony Pictures told theater owners slated to show the movie that while they were going forward with the scheduled release date, they would understand if the exhibitors chose not to show the film, and would support their decision, according to Deadline.
Although Forbes writer, Scott Mendelson, sympathized with theater owners in their decision, he argued that he was afraid of the consequences of pulling out films like these:
Make no mistake, if this threat has the desired effect of muting or outright preventing the theatrical release of The Interview, the precedent might utterly destroy the ability for Hollywood to produce films about any remotely hot button topic or merely leave the biggest blockbusters as the perfect pawn in every would-be nut job’s newest quest for attention.
Sony even cancelled its Thursday night red carpet premiere event for the film at the Landmark Sunshine Theater in New York City. Seth Rogen and James Franco, the stars of The Interview, also bowed out of their media appearances on shows like Late Night With Seth Meyers and The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, promoting the film.
Sony has been reeling from the damaging security breach, in which #GOP has leaked embarrassing documents and emails from the company to the public since Nov. 24. The company is working with the FBI while they're investigating the hack, and authorities are investigating if North Korea has had anything to do the cyberattack. The upcoming Sony Pictures film, The Interview, is a comedy about plans to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and the North Korean government has said they believe the film is an act of war.
UPDATE 12:34 p.m.: Variety reports that four of the country's largest theater chains, Regal Cinemas, Cinemark, Cineplex and AMC Entertainment will also be joining the growing list of theaters pulling or delaying the The Interview screenings. Southern Theatres, a chain in New Orleans, Louisiana, and B&B Theatres, another chain in Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Florida, are also on that list. Michigan-based MJR Digital Cinemas says it's likely they will drop the film as well.
“It’s much less of a big deal to pull the film than it is to risk something happening,” Eric Wold, an exhibition industry analyst with B. Riley and Company, told Variety. “It makes no sense for a theater to choose to show this movie.”