I have no fondness for Hollywood, but we’re now in a new era when foreign governments like North Korea wield veto power over whether a Hollywood-made movie is screened.
The movie is Sony Pictures Entertainment’s The Interview, an “action comedy” flick starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists instructed to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (played by Randall Park) after successfully booking an interview with him.
On June 25, 2014, Korean Central News Agency—the state-run news agency of North Korea — condemned the movie and promised a “decisive and merciless countermeasure” if The Interview were to be released, stating that “making and releasing a film that portrays an attack on our top-level leadership is the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated.”
In November 2014, the computer systems of parent company Sony Pictures Entertainment were hacked by a group that calls itself with no hint of irony “Guardians of Peace.” Federal investigators have confirmed that the group has ties to North Korea.
The North Korean hackers leaked several upcoming Sony films, as well as embarrassing emails in which producers bad-mouthed actors like Angelina Jolie (“minimally talented spoiled brat”) and Leonardo di Caprio, and made “racist” remarks about Barack Obama.
On December 16, 2014, the hackers raised their ante, threatening to carry out terrorist attacks against cinemas that screen The Interview, which originally was scheduled for release on December 25.
A day later, Sony buckled under the pressure.
From the AP, Dec. 17, 2014:
Under the threat of terrorist attacks from hackers and with the nation’s largest multiplex chains pulling the film from its screens, Sony Pictures Entertainment took the unprecedented step of canceling the Dec. 25 release of the The Interview.
The cancellation, announced Wednesday, was a startling blow to the Hollywood studio that has been shaken by hacker leaks and intimidations over the last several weeks by an anonymous group calling itself Guardians of Peace.
A U.S. official said Wednesday that federal investigators have now connected the Sony hacking to North Korea and are expected to make an announcement in the near future. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to openly discuss an ongoing criminal case.
Sony said it was canceling The Interview release “in light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film.” In a later statement, the studio added there was also no DVD or VOD in the works, either. “Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film,” a studio spokesman said.
The studio said it respected and shared in exhibitors’ concerns.
“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,” read the statement. “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”
Earlier Wednesday, Regal Cinemas, AMC Entertainment and Cinemark Theatres — the three top theater chains in North America — announced that they were postponing any showings of The Interview….
“This attack went to the heart and core of Sony’s business — and succeeded,” said Avivah Litan, a cybersecurity analyst at research firm Gartner. “We haven’t seen any attack like this in the annals of U.S. breach history.”
…Sony was also under pressure from other studios whose Christmas films could have been concern over movie going safety. Christmas is one of the most important box office weekends of the year….
Doug Stone, president of film industry newsletter Box Office Analyst, had predicted that The Interview could have made $75 million to $100 million. With Sony taking about 55 percent of domestic revenues, that could mean a $41 million to $55 million revenue loss, according to Stone….
Sony’s announcement was met with widespread distress across Hollywood and throughout many other realms watching the attack on Sony unfold. A former senior national security official in the George W. Bush administration said Sony made the wrong decision. “When you are confronted with a bully the idea is not to cave but to punch him in the nose,” Fran Townsend, Bush’s homeland security adviser, said Wednesday during a previously scheduled appearance in Washington, D.C. “This is a horrible, I think, horrible precedent.”
And where and what is Obama, Hollywood’s darling and recipient of Hollyweirdos’ multimillion $ campaign donations, doing about North Korea’s bullying?
Nothing, of course. He’s too busy with his annual winter vacation in balmy Hawaii.
H/t FOTM’s Anon
Dr. Eowyn’s post originally appeared at Fellowship of the Minds.
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