By Anna Power, Film Editor
Update Tuesday 23rd Dec: Sony in another U-turn have decided to release The Interview on December 25th. Bowing to presidential and public opinion the company have decided to go ahead with the release but to a limited theatrical audience. Sony have announced that they are planning a simultaneous VOD release though they have yet to name the online streaming service.
UPDATE: CNN reports that Sony has now pulled the Christmas Day release of The Interview after several major theatrical chains have decided against showing it. CNN have also stated that US government investigators have established a link between the hacking and the North Korean Government – though this awaits further confirmation.
What started out last week as headlines revealing a few embarrassingly leaked private emails by Sony executives calling Angelina Jolie a “spoilt brat” has evolved into a far-flung hacking-heist, which by all appearances is gathering momentum, virtually paralysing the US release of Sony’s The Interview starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.
The hackers refer to themselves as ‘Guardians of Peace’ and yesterday upped the ante by unleashing sinister threats including referencing the 9/11 attacks in relation to the fate of US movie theatres, should they choose to screen the film. The hackers’ message states:
“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.”
The knock on effect since the threats has been considerable, with release of ‘The Interview’ brought to a near standstill. In the 24 hours since the threats were made Rogen and Franco have cancelled all press and media appearances to promote the film, including an appearance on The Tonight Show scheduled for this evening as well as tomorrow’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. Thursday’s New York premiere has also been cancelled amid fears.
All this has been compounded by the leaking of Sony’s personal employee data including medical records, salaries and social security numbers by the hackers, leading in the last few days, to lawsuits being brought against Sony by ex-employees, holding them responsible for not protecting personnel information.
North Korea has denied any involvement but has described the hacking as a “righteous deed” and say it may be attributed to “sympathisers”. (The Interview contains a scene where Rogen and Franco embark on a mission to assassinate Kim Jong-un).
The Interview is due for release on Christmas Day in the US. Sony have stated they will not be withdrawing the film but understand that some theatres may choose to withhold the film’s release.