After a threat against theatres planning to show the upcoming Sony Pictures movie The Interview, theatres in both the United States and Canada have announced they are pulling, or at least delaying, showing the film.
Sony has released a statement after theatres across North America decided against showing The Interview over threats against theatres who showed the film surfaced.
“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,” Sony said in a statement.
The Interview, which stars Seth Rogan and James Franco, is a controversial undertaking in which Rogan and Franco land an interview with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. As a result, they are recruited by the CIA who hope they’ll be able to assassinate the foreign leader on their trip. It has been argued that the movie was the reason for the recent Sony hack which has the studio scrambling. While North Korea has denied involvement, they have called the hack a “righteous deed”.
The threat against theatres was clear:
“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,” the group wrote in a message on a file-sharing website. “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.”
While the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says there was “no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters”, the threats have prompted the Regal, AMC, Cinemark, and Carmike theatre chains (accounting for roughly half of U.S. theater screens) in the U.S. to pull the movie, which was slated to release on Christmas Day, until federal investigations into the threats have been completed. The New York premiere of The Interview was cancelled as well.
Canadian movie goers found themselves in a similar predicament as that countries main theatre chain, Cineplex (which owns more than 75% of the theaters), as well as two others have delayed the scheduled release of the movie. Pat Marshall, Vice President of Communications and Investor Relations for Cineplex Entertainment said in a statement that:
After careful consideration of this unprecedented and complex situation, Cineplex Entertainment (“Cineplex”) will postpone presentation of the Sony Pictures movie, The Interview. Cineplex takes seriously its commitment to the freedom of artistic expression, but we want to reassure our guests and staff that their safety and security is our number one priority. We look forward to a time when this situation is resolved and those responsible are apprehended.
His statement brings up an interesting point as cancelling showing of the movie stifles artistic expression and freedom of speech. Various stars in the movie industry have weighed in on Twitter, pledging their support for the movie, even as Variety reports that Steve Carell’s upcoming thriller set in North Korea is being dropped by New Regency as well.
The idea that threats r going to stop people from going to a theater & laughing is so bleak… Now I’ve never wanted to see a movie more.
— Adam McKay (@GhostPanther) December 17, 2014
I am not going to let a terrorist threat shut down freedom of speech. I am going to The Interview. — Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) December 17, 2014
What do you think of the theatre chains – and Sony’s – decision to pull the movie from theatres? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.