In a move that can only be described as total bullshit Sony has cancelled the release of the forthcoming Seth Rogen and James Franco starring film The Interview.
We haven’t been posting much lately so here’s a quick recap.
A few weeks ago Sony Pictures was hacked. Hackers shut down the studios website and started disseminating information around the web regarding the studios plans for future franchises, financial information including executive salaries and such, employee social security numbers, and all kinds of stuff. The group responsible claimed this was all due to the forthcoming release of The Interview. North Korea has denied any involvement in this despite being pretty much the only ones who would care about a movie about an attempted assassination of their dear leader but now we know that they were in fact “centrally involved”.
A few days ago the hackers upped the ante, threatening actual terror attacks at theatres showing the film. Or at least they say they are the same hackers, it isn’t clear that they are. What is clear is that there’s no credible threat here. Here’s an expert speaking to ABC News:
“Somebody is playing mind games with [SONY],” said Richard Clarke, cyber security expert and former White House counter-terrorism advisor. “I think North Korea has little or no capability to do any physical attacks, commando activity, or terrorism in the U.S. By saying it’s coming, however, they hope to keep people from the theaters and, thereby, hurt Sony’s revenue.”
Matt Olsen, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center and like Clarke an ABC News consultant, said the threat sounded more like “hooliganism” than anything really serious.
Sony then left the decision up to the theatre chains as to whether they want to show the film. Pretty much immediately most of them announced they would cancel, or at least delay, the release of the film. Disappointingly this included Canada’s Cineplex:
Your safety is our top priority. We have decided to postpone The Interview. http://t.co/aHhWvSxtuy— Cineplex (@CineplexMovies) December 17, 2014
After losing most of the films screens Sony outright cancelled the release. Here’s their 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.
The whole situation is bullshit. The theatre chains of North America and Sony Pictures have just told all the hackers and terrorists in the world that they’ll cave in the face of basically no real threat.
I have to wonder who is making the decisions here. Is it lawyers who are worried that if something didd happen the studios/theatre chains would be held responsible? Or do the hackers have something they’re holding over everyone’s head? Or did they really just not realize what kind of movie they were getting when they funded The Interview and now have an excuse not to release it? Or (most likely) are the theatres just afraid that people won’t come to see other films on that day if The Interview is playing?
No matter what it is the answer is not to cancel the release. The answer is the release the film, call the bluff. Don’t let bullies dictate what you do or don’t do. Don’t let the bad guys win because it will only embolden them for next time. In the meantime both the credibility of all five theatre chains and Sony Pictures have been damaged, along with the notion of free speech in Hollywood.