In a decision many assumed was inevitable after yesterday morning, when anonymous members of a hacker group called the Guardians of Peace threatened to blow up movie theaters showing the film, Sony has opted to cancel the December 25th premiere of their Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy The Interview.
The film, in which Rogen and Franco play two TV personalities tasked by the CIA with assassinating Kim Jong-Un after the North Korean dictator agrees to an interview with them, has courted controversy since its inception. That controversy, however, heated up in a major way last month when Sony’s computer databases were hacked, and the internet was flooded with sensitive information from the major film company.
Employees’ social security numbers, financial data, inchoate film projects and confidential in-company emails all landed online, causing Sony a great deal of embarassment in addition to lawsuits from some employees who claimed the company had put them in harm’s way by proceeding with The Interview.
After all that misfortune, it appears the hackers have finally won. Yesterday, the Guardians of Peace threatened a 9/11-type terrorist attack on theaters screening the film, which led major theater chains including AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Cineplex, Carmike and Bow Tie Cinemas to remove themselves from the equation. Sony really had no choice after that. Perhaps the company will opt for a VOD release to recoup some losses, but today marks a dark day for Sony, and for the freedom of speech that drives cinema as a whole.
Check out Sony’s press release, followed by a slew of new clips and TV spots for The Interview that have made their way online, below:
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.