Sony Cancels 'The Interview' Theatrical Release After Terror Threats
Update: US officials are saying they believe North Korea is behind the attack.
Well, that was quick. Soon after movie theaters across the country have announced that they're pulling The Interview in the midst of terror threats, Sony Pictures Entertainment gave in, cancelling the release of the film on Christmas Day.
Sony sent this statement to Variety:
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.
Major movie theater chains from Regal Cinemas to AMC Entertainment spoke out today that they would be cancelling or delaying their screenings of The Interview after Guardians of Peace (aka #GOP)—the group claiming responsibility for the devastating cyberattack on Sony—warned movie-goers to stay away from theaters screening the film, with a cryptic message about how people should remember the events of 9/11.
Originally, Sony told theater owners that they were still going forward with the release date on Christmas day and that they would understand if any exhibitor wanted to bow out from showing the film due to the vague threats. But it looks like they've changed their tune.
The Department of Homeland Security said "at this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States," but the agency said it is analyzing the credibility of the threats.
The Wall Street Journal has another theory for Sony's cancellation of the film's release. They said that folks in the industry have secretly urged the company to pull The Interview because it would "keep people away from multiplexes and depress ticket sales during the holiday season."
GigaOm argues that this is a disappointing move on Sony's part: "Whatever the rationale, the outcome is appalling since it sets a precedent for other repressive regimes to induce self-censorship in democratic countries simply by making threats."
CineKink film festival tweeted this jab at Sony:
Hey, @SonyPictures... I did my part and shopped/stayed in NYC in months following 9/11. The least you could do is release your crappy movie!— CineKink (@CineKink) December 17, 2014
The Interview is a comedy about two dudes (James Franco and Seth Rogen) who are recruited to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The North Korean government has said they believe the film is an act of war. Over the last few weeks, Sony has faced a massive security breach, where embarrassing and revealing documents and emails have leaked to the public. They're currently working with the FBI, and authorities are investigating if North Korea has anything to do with the cyberattack.
Franco had this to say on his Instagram a few days ago about everything going on:
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