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Last night, Sony Pictures announced plans to cancel the Christmas Day release of its comedy film, The Interview. The move came after various cinema chains had pulled out from screening the film following escalated threats from the hacker group calling themselves Guardians of Peace. In their statement Sony said: “We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theatergoers.”
Yet, it’s not just America that’s affected, according to BBC News, the UK arm of Sony Pictures don’t have any plans to release the movie over here either (which was set for a February 6th release). This coupled with Sony’s claim that they have no desire to release the film on VOD or DVD, means that we won’t be seeing the film any time soon.
Following the announcement, social media was abuzz, with the popular response appearing to accuse Sony of setting a bad precedent, something that definitely appears to be the case as the upcoming Gore Verbinski helmed Steve Carell film, Pyongyang, has also been shelved following all the Sony hoopla , the film was going to be a thriller set in North Korea, but according to Deadline the producers have scrapped it under the current circumstances. Now, it’s only a matter of time before we see releases being canned left, right and centre just because a few cyber criminals don’t particularly like it, although if it were an Adam Sandler movie, I’d be interested in seeing how many come to its defence.
I, personally believe Sony made a wise choice in cancelling the theatrical release of the movie, after all it is better to be safe than sorry, but I strongly believe that Sony is making a mistake by not releasing the film online. The Interview is perhaps the most talked about film of 2014 at this point, a simultaneous international VOD release could prove to be ground breaking, especially as people who weren’t interested before or those who hadn’t even heard of the film will be aiming to watch it following all this exposure. Unfortunately the studio appears to have given up and perhaps just wants to wash its hands of this entire affair, the hack on their computer network alone has caused monumental damage, with the last few weeks seeing the leak of private emails, movie screeners for upcoming films such as Annie (2014) and Still Alice (2015) along with the script for the James Bond film, SPECTRE (2015).
As of right now, it’s yet unclear whether the hackers will be satisfied with Sony’s decision to shelve The Interview, and whilst it may not be the darkest day for film as some claim, this whole experience has definitely been surreal.