Sony kills ‘The Interview’ following threats of violence
Following multiple online attacks and threats of violence, Sony has decided to cancel the upcoming Christmas Day release of The Interview. The move follows the decision of several major theaters to not air the film for fear of a reprisal.
Sony issued the following statement confirming the film’s now uncertain fate:
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 Interview stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as a TV news team granted an exclusive interview with the new North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. Before reaching the isolated country though, the CIA steps in and recruits the duo to assassinate the North Korean leader.
To say that the North Koreans were not amused is an understatement, and at one point there was a threat of military action over the film. Not long after, Sony began to be hacked by an unknown group and sensitive information was released, including the salary of executives, unreleased plans for potential films, and plenty of personal emails. Several groups claimed responsibility, but the US government is currently investigating North Korea’s involvement, and is considering action.
At first, the attacks were fairly innocuous. The hacks were a crime, no question, but most of the information released was embarrassing rather than threatening. The emails quickly spread, and news of things like a possible Men in Black/Jump Street crossover, talks regarding Spider-Man coming home to Marvel Studios, and a possible Super Mario film franchise were just a few of the interesting releases. The threats quickly escalated though.
The Interview was set for Christmas Day release, but a new series of threats were issued, claiming that if the film was released “the world will be full of fear.” The threats went on to claim “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.” Many theaters took that as a threat of violence against theaters running the film, and as a result decided not to carry it.
The Interview cost around $44 million to produce, not including the promotion of the film, which was ironically helped immensely by the threats. It’s not clear if Sony will try to scrap the project entirely and try to claim the insurance, or if it will push the release to some point next year.
Update: Shortly after the publication of this article, Sony confirmed that it has no plans to ever release the film.