Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Interview Situation

From cancelling the New York premiere, to five major US cinema chains revealing they are withdrawing from screening Sony's recently cyber hacked comedy. To now, mere hours ago, seeing the entertainment giant announcing that The Interview is being scrapped from the originally planned Christmas Day theatrical release. Amid growing and increasingly substantial threats made by the cyber hackers, it's safe to say Sony's problems are snowballing by the second. James Franco's and Seth Rogen's controversial comedy about two journalists helping with a CIA plot to assassinate the leader of North Korea, has been the subject of escalating press reports over the past few days. After a string of damaging private emails along with confidential information being leaked online, many newspapers have been sent into a dizzying frenzy of collating every last character smearing detail, which has made Sony hit the panic button, striving for a last ditch attempt to regain some damage control.

Sony has stated that it "understands our partners' decision" to refrain from showing The Interview, adding that they "completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theatre-goers." This has lead to speculation that cinemas may be targeted if screenings go ahead, however the US government has shared that no "credible intelligence" has been found of any plots to attack movie-goers or cinemas. Reactions from the public have been divided, with many being dumbfounded at Sony's decision to "give in" to others joking and proudly exclaiming that they won't have to sit through a so called comedy.

However there has also been a overwhelming demand to see The Interview released in a video on demand format, to show solidarity between film makers and audiences a like. In a positive bid to topple the hackers threats and stop the cyber terrorists from 'winning', Sony have certainly had a tricky time negotiating this delicate and extremely complicated situation, with many calling this a dark day for cinema. In the short term reality it's commendable of Sony and the partner exhibitors to take the threats at face value, for if they were acted upon that would be far more damaging to the film industry as a whole.

With Franco and Rogen both pulling out of public press appearances, a very new and real danger seems to be rearing it's extremely ugly head over Hollywood's door. Whilst VOD is the most logical and safest option currently, it seems that this debacle is far from over. Although The Interview is sure to be nothing ground breaking in the world of comedy films, Sony took a risk in portraying this tyrannical dictator in such a way, and should be praised for standing by the film makers freedom of expression. This may result in many production companies shying away from taking risks, according to Deadline a North Korea thriller starring Steve Carell (who was to play a man accused of espionage by North Korea) has already been canned by executives. It seems as though any jibe at North Korea or its leader is strictly a no go area, and at the end of 2014 this could be seen as a terrorist move towards censorship.

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