No doubt after much boardroom deliberation, Sony Pictures Entertainment has cancelled the release of its Christmas season lighthearted comedy The Interview. The film, which stars James Franco and Seth Rogen, focuses on two zany television journalists who get an interview with the leader of North Korea and are seconded by the CIA to take advantage of the opportunity to kill him.
The numerous commercials showed the totally farcical approach taken by the film to a touchy topic, yet evidently many North Koreans, one in particular, didn’t exactly see the humorous side to the flick. So in today’s version of the shuffling of nuclear weapons as a means of sending a message to an enemy, the North Koreans allegedly launched a cyber-attack on Sony, making public several sensitive documents. Worse, they made a clear threat that should the film be released as intended, there would be a reaction along the lines of 9/11. Whoever was behind these hacks was playing for real.
The holiday season is a big money-maker for the movie industry. This is an important point as, according to Variety, this past summer was the worst in a decade at the box office. A strong fourth-quarter is needed to break even. Not that The Interview was going to single-handedly save the year, nor was it destined to become a classic, but every bit helps.
The decision to pull the film will be seen by different people in different ways. Some will claim that Sony should be ashamed to have caved to terrorist threats while others will consider the company to have done the wise thing considering public safety. I suspect that at some point someone will come up with a pirated version of the film and defiantly show it in an independent cinema.