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The Interview: Controversy, Threats, and Cancelation
December 18, 2014Posted by on
I have seen a lot of movies lately, but I haven’t really had time to write up any reviews due to a hectic work schedule and general holiday nuttiness. I was going to post one today due to things winding down, but something else came up that I really pulled my attention away from those.
The big Hollywood news of late is that Sony Pictures has decided to cancel the Seth Rogan/James Franco film The Interview due to the recent North Korean threats against movie theaters showing it. The film, which centers upon a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was already generating controversy due to its subject matter, but things went into high gear after the Sony hack from the previous week (which is now pointing that it came from North Korea).
Due to the nature of the movie being “officially” revealed through the hack (namely the death of Kim Jong-un), a terrorist group (with a probable link to North Korea) had threatened to attack theaters showing the movie unless it was pulled (citing a comparison to 9/11 in the threat). After weighing the odds, Sony decided to cancel The Interview.
That’s correct folks, Seth Rogan and James Franco inadvertently caused an international incident.
Several Hollywood big-wigs have spoken out against Sony’s decision, claiming it is the end of creative expression and other such melodramatic nonsense.
Okay, I have a couple of issues with all of this.
First, the Hollywood creative types complaining: To them I say it is really easy to judge from the outside looking in. I’d be curious to see what they would do in that situation. And if you look at the facts behind it, Sony really was up against a wall. After the threat was issued, five of the biggest theater chains dropped the movie. Right off the bat, the film would have been shown in a very limited capacity. On top of that, the theaters that did show it, the audience will logically be low due to the potential threat.
No matter how you cut it, The Interview is a money loser for Sony. The film being canceled was kind of forced on them. Those in the business complaining on Twitter should redirect their anger at the movie houses if they need to be outraged.
Now, what likelihood would it have been for an actual terror attack on a movie theater? Likely very little, but I get why theaters would drop the film. Why take the chance if something did happen? At the end of the day, is it worth it?
What if Sony released it as planned and, God forbid, something did happen? People would be livid at Sony for releasing it in the first place amid the threat.
Don’t get me wrong, I am disappointed that it came to this. After all, it is just a movie. A big dumb comedy. Sure, it might ruffle some feathers due to its subject matter, but in the end, who cares? Yeah, North Korea can issue its complaints and declare outrage. That’s fine. But to want to hurt others over it? That’s insane.
Sony was placed in an impossible spot in a no-win scenario.
If there was a foreign movie that depicted the death of a sitting US president, people might get angry, but the US government is not going to go blow up theaters over it. If only there was an example of that to illustrate my point. Oh, wait. There is!
That said, I am really shocked (long before this started) at the audacity of Sony to even make a film like this to begin with. At least it being so on the nose. The Interview doesn’t take us to a fake country with a thinly-veiled Kim Jong-un stand-in like other movies would do. It’s meant to depict the actual guy! Is it political commentary gone too far? Sony had to of known they were walking into a mind field with this given the tense political nature of US/North Korea relations and how allegedly batshit crazy Jong-un is. Is it possible they didn’t realize it would go this far with terrorist threats? I guess Sony figured they might be in the clear since 2004’s Team America: World Police (which also heavily featured a satrical take on North Korea) didn’t receive any backlash when released.
Remember in the ‘80s where there were politically-charged films and no one really gave a shit to this extreme? Yeah, those days were awesome. I do have to give Sony, Rogan, and Franco credit for the balls it took to even make this film in the first place. If it was canceled early on before it started filming, the Hollywood big-wigs wouldn’t have been tweeting about it at all.
So, what next? Sony has denied any reports that they will release the movie in other formats (On-Demand, Direct-to-DVD, etc). I really have trouble believing that it will be never released with big names like Rogan and Franco attached. I can see in a few months after this has died down, Sony quietly releasing it in some way.
But, whatever the case may be, I would argue that there will be a dramatic increase in the interest in this movie just because of the controversy. Expect torrent sites to run rampant with the film in the coming weeks. I even wouldn’t be surprised if Rogan and Franco leak it themselves – they seem like the kind of guys who would do such a thing.
Like the actors/writers/producers lambasting Sony, I’m just a guy from the outside looking it. I am sure there is a lot more to what is going on from Sony’s side to put things into perspective. It was an impossible position, and there was going to be an unpopular decision made no matter what they decided.
What do you think?