“The Interview,” a comedy-action film about two journalists hired by the U.S. government to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, has been the center of controversy since June 2014, when North Korean representatives threatened “merciless” action against the United States if the film was distributed. The film’s release was pushed back. In November, the computer systems of Sony Pictures Entertainment were hacked, and North Korea was the prime suspect.
Most recently, threats were made on Dec. 16 by a cyber-terrorist group calling itself the “Guardians of Peace (GOP)” to attack all cinemas that show the film in a manner reminiscent of 9/11. Sourcefed posted the message the GOP sent out, which reads:
We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
The world will be full of fear.
Remember the 11th of September 2001.
We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
All the world will denounce the SONY.”
This subsequently led to most major theater chains deciding not to show the film upon its release, including Carmike Cinemas, AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Cineplex and ArcLight Cinemas. Sony, with most of its theater partners having taken this route, ultimately decided to cancel the planned Dec. 25, 2014 release of the film.
That’s not all. New Regency Productions has also completely halted the production of Steve Carrell’s planned film “Pyongyang” about an American living in North Korea under Kim Jong-un’s regime. A public statement about this decision has not yet been made, but Carrell tweeted
Sad day for creative expression. #feareatsthesoul
— Steve Carell (@SteveCarell) December 17, 2014
He followed that tweet up with a photo of Charlie Chaplin dressed as Hitler in 1941’s “The Great Dictator.”
Steve Carrell’s tweets carry a tremendous message, that being that we have allowed fear of terrorist attacks to trample on the free speech of our filmmakers and artists who have every right to make a political statement. Not only that, but these attacks seem very unlikely. The Washington Posts’s Alexandra Petri put it very eloquently when she said “It seems insanely, incredibly, mind-bustingly improbable that this group would be able to target all theaters that show ‘The Interview’ in a ‘9-11-style attack.’ If this threat really scares us, the safest thing would be to show it in Every Theater Everywhere Across the Country, because there’s no way anyone is competent enough to attack Everyone, Everywhere.”
According to Variety, Sony is currently weighing the option to distribute “The Interview” to households via video-on-demand, which would allow them to recoup some of their monetary losses and simultaneously give the American people their freedom back by allowing them the choice to see this film or not.
Rogen appeared on The Colbert Report to discuss this issue: