[UPDATE: Sony Has No Plans To Release “˜The Interview’ On VOD]
Yesterday, the hackers who infiltrated Sony Pictures’ computer network escalated from attacks of the informational kind to actual terrorist threats. They had announced that any theater showing the James Franco and Seth Rogen comedy The Interview would experience a 9/11-type attack. Far from what many had thought the Christmas surprise would be. Last night both the Arclight Cinemas and Carmike Cinemas announced that they would not be having any showing of the upcoming film because of the threat, and now five more theaters are following suit.
The Wrap says that Regal Cinemas, Cinemark, Cineplex, and AMC Theatres are now pulling The Interview after the threat was made. This also comes after Homeland Security stated that there is no credible information that an attack(s) will occur to said theaters that show the film on Christmas Day.
Even with Homeland Security saying the that threats are not credible, the decision of these major theaters chains to not screen the movie has forced Sony to cancel its Christmas release entirely and explore new options. Read a quote from Sony and more below.
Of the decision, reported by Variety, Sony issued a statement saying:
“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,” it continues. “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”
But Sony may have found a way to still get the film to those who are eager to see it. Variety says that Sony is currently considering all possible options, which includes the possibility of a video on demand release of the film. This option in a way would be a great move for the studio to test out how a big budget comedy would perform in VOD waters. However, the price it would cost to watch the film is unknown.
The door is also still open for a release later down the road if Sony decides to see if all of this dies down a bit.
It really goes without saying that this is a bad move. If anything, this will show that theaters will back down when unsubstantiated threats are made. Remember, U.S. officials have found no evidence that these hackers will act on their threats.
What if this happens to other films like Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Will theaters pull those films if the same threats are made? Also, as a small reminder, Zero Dark Thirty, the 2012 action film which centered on the manhunt for and take down of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, was released under Sony Pictures’ Columbia banner.
[Source: TheWrap | Variety]