UPDATED: Sony Cancels Release of ‘The Interview’

By December 17, 2014
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UPDATED 3:20PM PST: An FBI spokesperson speaking to CNBC (via Variety) has stated that the cyber attack on Sony Pictures now has “linkage” to the North Korean government, residing in Pyongyang. CNN then stated that an official report from federal authorities would directly name North Korea as the attributed responsible party in the attack sometime on Thursday.

UPDATED 2:30PM PST: Word has now come down from Variety that Sony Pictures has outright canceled the planned Christmas release for The Interview. Their statement reads,

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. We respect and understand our partners’ decision [not to show the film in their theaters] and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers

While the statement doesn’t say that the film will never see a theatrical release, sources tell Variety that the studio is currently exploring alternative distribution options, including possible release on premium video on-demand services. More on this as it develops.

Original Story: The ongoing saga revolving around Sony Pictures’ The Interview is starting to take an unsettling turn. In the wake of highly publicized threats of active violence and terrorism from the cyber criminal group responsible for the cyber security breach at Sony Pictures, Variety and several other outlets are reporting that practically every major American theater chain has decided not to show the film in their facilities.

The major chains in question — Regal Cinemas, Cinemark, Cineplex, and AMC Entertainment — will be either delaying the release of the film in their theaters, or dropping it entirely. In addition to these major chains, the trend was actually started by smaller chains Bow Tie Cinemas and Carmike. Many analysts asked about this turn of events seem to agree that while delaying or abandoning a new movie due to threats of violence is unfortunate, doing so represents a far smaller risk in comparison to releasing the film as planned and actually seeing violence break out. In many ways, Cinemark is still struggling to restore its public image after the July 2012 shooting in one of their theaters in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

Although the threats of violence surrounding a movie theater are extremely disconcerting, Deadline reported yesterday that the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) found their to be no actionable intelligence on which to base an active response. Their statement reads,

DHS is aware of a threat made online targeting movie theaters in the United States. We are still analyzing the credibility of these statements, but at this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.

Whether or not this is simple hyperbolic bloviating or something worth preparing for, Sony Pictures recently gave theaters the option to back out of showing The Interview in response to the threats, and we are now seeing the results. The old adage goes that its better to be safe than sorry, and when it comes to the lives of ordinary people who just want to go to the movies and have fun, that’s when threats like these need to be taken most seriously. While its unfortunate that cowardly threats issued anonymously behind a computer monitor have caused such a disturbance in an activity so many people enjoy, in this instance the theater owners and Sony are likely responding appropriately.

Still, whether the threats are credible or not, its hard to ignore the panging idea that poorly worded harmful intent put a knife through the heart of a story that comes from a country that thrives off of the ideal of free speech.

For more on this story as it develops, keep an eye on GeekNation.

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.