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Corporate Cowardice

 This one is surreal.

 In a stunning display of corporate cowardice, Regal, AMC, and  every other major theatre chain in the United States have cancelled their plans to show the new Seth Rogen/ James Franco comedy THE INTERVIEW, because of -- yes, seriously, this is not a SOUTH PARK sketch (though I expect it soon will be) --  threats from North Korea.

Not familiar with THE INTERVIEW?  Here's the trailer:



 I mean, really?  REALLY??  These gigantic corporations, most of which could buy North Korea with pocket change, are declining to show a film because Kim Jong-Un objects to being mocked?

 The level of corporate cowardice here astonishes me.  It's a good thing these guys weren't around when Charlie Chaplin made THE GREAT DICTATOR.  If Kim Jong-Un scares them, Adolf Hitler would have had them shitting in their smallclothes.

 Even Sony, which made the movie, is going along.  There are thousands of small independent theatres across the country, like my own, that would gladly screen THE INTERVIEW, regardless of the threats from North Korea, but instead of shifting the film to those venues, Sony has cancelled its scheduled Christmas rollout entirely.

 I haven't seen THE INTERVIEW.  I have no idea how good or bad a film it is.   It might be hilarious.  It might be stupid and offensive and outrageous. (Actually, I am pretty sure about the 'outrageous' part).  It might be all of the above.

That's not the point, though.  Whether it's the next CITIZEN KANE or the next PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, it astonishes me that a major Hollywood film could be killed before release by threats from a foreign power and anonymous hackers.

For what it's worth, the Jean Cocteau Cinema will be glad to screen THE INTERVIEW (assuming that Sony does eventually release the film for theatrical exhibition, rather than streaming it or dumping it as a direct-to-DVD release), should it be made available to us.  Come to Santa Fe, Seth, we'll show your film for you.

POSTSCRIPT: DECEMBER 20

Not content with pulling the film, Sony has now pulled the trailers as well, so the YouTube video I embedded above no longer works.

Here's a replacement from YouTube that's dead on point:

Comments

( 106 comments )
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nathaniel
Dec. 18th, 2014 04:35 am (UTC)
Hm. I thought it was because threats of terrorist attacks had been made against cinema goers.

There's still an argument that they could have or should have proceeded to show the film. I'm sure threats are made all the time against businesses and institutions that don't simply cave in and shut down. But I think, to be fair, you should make it clear that it wasn't a "corporate" issue in the sense of a financial or administrative or reputational risk so much as the risk that people would actually be killed.

Can you imagine the witch hunt that would follow if an attack eventuated, people were killed and it came out that those theatres had forewarning?

scottdschaffer1
Dec. 18th, 2014 06:36 am (UTC)
North Korean threats are about as empty as they come, in most cases. They've practically made an art of empty bluster. Unless there's credible evidence that they're actually capable of launching such an attack, all that happens is that North Korea learns sometimes empty bluster can get results.

(no subject) - turk_turkleton - Dec. 18th, 2014 06:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Dec. 18th, 2014 06:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - werthead - Dec. 18th, 2014 01:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nathaniel - Dec. 18th, 2014 02:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alessandriana - Dec. 19th, 2014 12:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rodents210 - Dec. 19th, 2014 08:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Roger Christie - Dec. 19th, 2014 06:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kalimac - Dec. 18th, 2014 03:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Brandon Butler - Dec. 18th, 2014 02:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ferrell - Dec. 18th, 2014 05:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - kateyleigh - Dec. 19th, 2014 01:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
not credible - Zachary Stauber - Dec. 19th, 2014 06:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
rmholt
Dec. 18th, 2014 04:36 am (UTC)
Totally
Remember after some initial hesitation upon the fatwa on Salman Rushdie bookstores expanded their Satanic Verses displays? Sony & everyone running scared are chickenshit and setting a really bad example.
ericadawn16
Dec. 18th, 2014 05:05 pm (UTC)

It also made me think of the death threats Comedy Central received when South Park wanted to show Mohammad or when they caved to Scientologists by not showing the Tom Cruise episode again. Hollywood has a long history of cowardice but even though the Internet is the Avenue the original hackers used, it's also the reason how they're able to be revealed to everyone for being cowards.


And kudos to you,  Mr. Martin as a theatre owner by wanting to show it!

Stan Drewdon
Dec. 18th, 2014 04:38 am (UTC)
Hard not to agree with what you wrote, but there's probably more going on than we know. Maybe the hackers have a piece of info that Sony cannot let leak.
Jerry Lyn Hess
Dec. 18th, 2014 09:27 am (UTC)
This is what I have been postulating. In my opinion, Sony does not believe that the threats are credible, but the information they have NOT yet released is what led to this decision. It must be something that will permanently ruin Sony's image. Here is my question. If that is the case, what is stopping them from releasing it now? They have already won.
(no subject) - Brandon Butler - Dec. 18th, 2014 02:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
my guess - newjeffct - Dec. 19th, 2014 12:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
virgogrrl77
Dec. 18th, 2014 04:53 am (UTC)
On the same page with you. It's a slippery slope and I'm very disappointed which is putting it mildly.
phoenicianrises
Dec. 18th, 2014 05:01 am (UTC)
I'm in the field...
As someone who currently works for a movie theater chain (and additionally is an aspiring screenwriter) I can tell you it's entirely with the intention of safety for the guests. There were actual threats made by people, and could they be ridiculous? Absolutely! But after the incident that happened in Colorado cinemas are under even more pressure to enforce a safe environment. It's not about corporate cowardice (at least for the chain I work for), it's about putting guests first and making them feel like they are in a safe and comfortable environment to experience films.

It's sad that this had to happen, and it is ludicrous, but unfortunately we live in a day and age where we can't take any threat lightly, no matter how unlikely it may seem. I want to be in film and television for a living so I feel the pain of this as an artist, but I also understand it from the other side as someone who has to endure the feedback of the public every single day.
con_grazia
Dec. 18th, 2014 05:04 am (UTC)
It seems like Sony is crumbling in more ways than one. With all the leaked correspondence, etc. I think they are running really scared. Funny that you mention South Park at all, because the first thing I thought was: Matt Stone and Trey Parker would NEVER back down from something like this. And they DID something like this with North Korea in Team America: World Police. (Sing it with me: "I'm so Lonely") I've been wondering all day how Sony is going to recover its reputation (well, it never had a good one with me), if it does at all, and who the hell is going to want to make films with them if they can be bullied into crap like this?

If I still lived in NM I would gladly come to watch it at your theater. Sad thing is the film could be a piece of crap and now a lot of people, like you and me, will spend their hard-earned money to see it just to stand up for freedom of speech!

I have no doubt the only thing N. Korea would have accomplished Dec. 25 is the satisfaction of scaring the crap out of enough Americans that the film would bomb. I do think that's the only "bomb" that they were thinking of. And it possibly would have worked had Sony not been so chicken-shit.

Sorry - this whole thing has me pretty pissed off. Again....Matt and Trey would NEVER!
Gregg Silver
Dec. 18th, 2014 06:04 am (UTC)
The guys who make south park have already killed the leader of North Korea in the movie Team America: World Police
polydad
Dec. 18th, 2014 06:13 am (UTC)
Hi, George --

I haven't seen the film myself, and based on what I've heard about it I hadn't been planning to and see no reason to change that plan. But it suggests that Sony might be using the hoo-ha as an excuse to back out of putting their big corporate pocketbook behind a lackluster movie.

I've worked with some of those guys (as an IT vendor), and they're *not* total idiots. (Well, most of 'em, anyway.) They know that threats from a tin-pot dictator will raise sales. They also know that if the tin-pot dictator hires goons to hit some of their audience members, things will get Complicated. Complicated is not necessarily bad -- but it's not necessarily *good*, either.

If they don't think they have their corporate shit together sufficiently to handle 'complicated' well at the moment, not letting it hit them in the ass might be a very rational strategy.

best,

Joel. Who would be delighted to see Sony go to the mat to protect an even-halfway-good movie, but can understand if they don't want to do so for less.
MichealJessop
Dec. 18th, 2014 08:14 pm (UTC)
It's a Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg comedy. They make money and, typically, a lot of it. Maybe the film is great, maybe middling, maybe even terrible, but there's little doubt in my mind it would have at least recouped its $44 million investment. For all the people with no interest in Hobbits and Dwarves, an R-rated comedy is a popular alternate choice, especially on a Christmas release. Besides, it's already bought and paid for and advertised -- there's no way that Sony is secretly high-fiving about pulling a high-profile movie a week in front of wide-release, no matter what they think internally about the film.
No, Sony had no intention of bowing out. Their hand was forced by about every major theater chain (thousands of screens) making that choice for them. And Sony is humbly going along with it. Is that the smart choice? Debatable. I, for one, find it somewhat sad that the theater chains are bending over backwards for threats with no substance behind them. Though I appreciate and understand the other side of the argument, I can't help but feel that these corporations are doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. But either way, we're in the day and age where if somebody creates something another entity doesn't like, it now gets pulled. It's a dangerous precedent, and it would have been great if at least one of the major chains had flipped a big FU to North Korea and screened the movie anyhow. But it is what it is, and I think we've all lost a little something because of it.
(no subject) - grrm - Dec. 18th, 2014 09:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
scottdschaffer1
Dec. 18th, 2014 06:30 am (UTC)
Whenever someone uses threats to silence free speech, the best response is always to throw it in their faces by getting three times as many people to see what they don't want you to see or hear what they don't want you to hear. Sony should have released the film everywhere it could and there should have been online organizing for people to go see the movie in droves, to make it absolutely clear such tactics don't work and will backfire on you spectacularly if you try them.

So yes, it's rather depressing the lack of backbone on display.

Edited at 2014-12-18 06:31 am (UTC)
MichealJessop
Dec. 18th, 2014 08:43 pm (UTC)
This 1000 times. It can't be said enough. It's not even about whether the movie is good or bad. It's not even about the movie. It's about some anonymous dirt-bags deciding for EVERYONE else what they can and can't see, enjoy, or even dislike. And they are deciding, because their threats got a movie pulled. What a ridiculous, depressing decision for anybody that values free speech.
(no subject) - pixelgecko - Dec. 19th, 2014 04:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Dec. 18th, 2014 06:31 am (UTC)
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achacunsagloire
Dec. 18th, 2014 06:47 am (UTC)
I think it's pretty ridiculous and cowardly myself. I was going to wait until it came out on DVD to see it, but all of this silliness has made me swear to shell out the full price for a cinema ticket when it comes out--assuming it'll even get a cinema release now. v-v;
andrew_mcguire
Dec. 18th, 2014 06:51 am (UTC)
It seems Little Kim has less of a sense of humour than his late father, the 'Dear Leader' Kim Jong-Il, who, to the best of my recollection, made no such threats after being ridiculed in Team America, let alone prior to its release; or, more probably, his intelligence agencies didn't tell him about it in advance, and he had them all executed.

Whatever his predecessor's attitude may have been, my sources suggest that the DPRK's current supreme leader has become even more paranoid since hearing of a possible CIA-sponsored coup to replace him with Kim Kardashian.
Rohini Kumar
Dec. 18th, 2014 06:57 am (UTC)
Corporate espionage
I share your sentiment... it is a powerful statement when a multi-billion dollar company like Sony can be brought to its knees because of North Korea and the hackers working for them...

My guess is among the data stollen from Sony, the hackers have yet to release the juiciest pieces. I think the fear of highly controversial data coming out is what made them cave into the hacker's demands.


bigus
Dec. 18th, 2014 07:05 am (UTC)
Sony put The Interview on shelf. No DVD or otherwise
http://variety.com/2014/film/news/sony-has-no-further-release-plans-for-the-interview-1201382167/

What a sad world.
kshandra
Dec. 18th, 2014 07:07 am (UTC)
It's a good thing these guys weren't around when Charlie Chaplin made THE GREAT DICTATOR.

There's an important distinction here, though. For all that it was blatantly obvious who Chaplin was going after with The Great Dictator, he was never named.

Sony should NEVER have let this project move forward without filing off the serial numbers first, IMO. Fictionalize the important details - make up an island country in the South China Sea, rename the ruling family - and this movie would be opening as originally scheduled.
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