After most major theater chains pulled planned showings of The Interview amid credible terrorist threats, Sony has decided to cancel the film’s release altogether.
The Seth Rogen/James Franco action comedy about American journalists ordered by the CIA to kill dictator, Kim Jong-un, was the motivation behind the Sony e-mail hack, and threats of a 9/11-style attack on any theater showing the movie were enough to convince Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment — the five largest movie chains in the U.S. — from showing it.
A group calling itself Guardians of Peace sent more hacked files out yesterday, including the entire e-mail inbox of Sony head, Michael Lynton, along with a very threatening message that read, “We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places The Interview be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” it read. “Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY [sic].”
As a result, Sony decided to cancel its release altogether.
Full Sony Pictures statement… pic.twitter.com/zxM0hMQxHG
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) December 17, 2014
So, what does the future hold for the flick? One Twitter user had a brilliant idea.
@brianstelter Sony should fight fire with fire: Make "The Interview" available online, for free, on every pirate site in the world. In HD.
— James McQuivey (@jmcquivey) December 17, 2014
The only problems would be recouping the film’s $44 million production costs — nearly impossible without theater ticket sales — and preventing repercussions similar to the Sony hack on any other distributors of the film.
While neither Rogen nor Franco have yet commented on Sony’s decision publicly, Rob Lowe says he knows exactly what Rogen thinks.
Saw @Sethrogen at JFK. Both of us have never seen or heard of anything like this. Hollywood has done Neville Chamberlain proud today.
— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) December 17, 2014
In case you’re forgetting your history lessons, Chamberlain was the British prime minister whose policy of appeasement allowed Nazism to grow into World War II.
UPDATE: According to Gawker, reports from the New York Times, CNN, CBS News and other major news outlets, U.S. officials have confirmed that North Korea was “centrally involved” in the cyber attacks on Sony.
“We have found linkage to the North Korean government,” a U.S. government official said to NBC News.
According to the New York Times, White House officials still aren’t sure how to publicly respond to the hack, as it is unprecedented. Though it seems the investigation was able to trace the attack to a location outside North Korea, officials are confident North Korean officials ordered the attack.