After a cyber attack wreaked havoc for Sony and their employees, Sony has pulled the theatrical release of ‘The Interview’. The final straw was a threat that any theater exhibiting the film should expect a “9/11 style attack”.
Sony initially advised theater owners that they could decide to not show the film, with most of the major chains choosing to opt out. Now Sony has decided to pull the film from its December 25th release date altogether.
Sony released the following statement:
“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.”
Sony is currently considering a VOD option. This seems to make the most sense. And what of the unintended consequences? Could having such an expected large release change the VOD landscape? The biggest fear is that this attack and subsequent decision will stifle the creativity in Hollywood and make them even more risk averse. So prepare yourself for even more vanilla, passive fare.
Though I understand the decision, I don’t agree with it. The U.S. government has stated they think North Korea is indeed behind the cyber attack, but does not find the threat to bomb theaters credible. But the chains can’t afford to lose any customers over a holiday weekend, and attendance would certainly drop for all films if people are scared to go to the theaters.
We also have our first canceled in development project. Production of director Gore Verbinski’s ‘Pyonyang’ starring Steve Carrell has been stopped. It was a thriller based on a graphic novel about a Westerner’s experiences working in North Korea after a year.