In an interview with CNN, Sony CEO Michael Lynton said that President Obama and the media are ‘mistaken’ about the company pulling the controversial Seth Rogen comedy ‘The Interview’ from theaters. The film features Rogen and James Franco as reporters who are instructed by the C.I.A. to assassinate Kim Jong-un while in North Korea to interview him.
The movie’s Christmas day release was cancelled following threats made by a group who led a cyber attack on the media giant, hacking their computer system and releasing private documents and emails. The hackers, believed to be working for the North Korean government, warned U.S. citizens to stay away from movie theaters if the film is in fact released. The group’s threat reportedly made mention of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.
When asked by Fareed Zakaria to respond to the president’s comment that media giant made a “mistake” by canceling the release of the comedy, Lynton explained that Obama, as well as the media and the public in general, did not understand the exact circumstances of the situation.
“I think actually the unfortunate part is in this instance the president, the press and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened,” Lynton said.
“We do not own movie theaters. We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters. So, to sort of rehearse for a moment the sequence of events, we experienced the worst cyber-attack in American history and persevered for three and a half weeks under enormous stress and enormous difficulty. All with the effort of trying to keep our business up and running and get the movie out to the public.”
Lynton said that the company originally had no plans to cancel the movie’s release, but soon saw no other option as more and more theaters began pulling it. “The movie theaters came to us one by one over the course of a very short period of time -- we were very surprised by it -- and announced that they would not carry the movie,” Lynton said. “At that point in time we had no alternative to not proceed with a theatrical release on the 25th of December.”
A potential video-on-demand release has been explored, according to Lynton, though no distributors have made any offers yet. Sony released a statement coinciding with Michael Lynton’s interview, maintaining that their decision was made solely due a lack of theaters that were willing it carry the film. The statement said that the company is actively pursuing some form of a release in the hopes that “anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so”