Sony pictures has pulled The Interview from its Dec. 25 release date, the studio said in a statement on Wednesday.
The decision was the depressing climax to a weeks-long nightmare after Sony Pictures Entertainment suffered on Nov. 24 a massive and unprecedented hack of roughly 100TB of embarrassing, sensitive, and confidential data. On Monday, the group claiming responsibility for the hack, whose members call themselves the Guardians of Peace, threatened theaters that plan on showing the film The Interview — which depicts the assassination of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un. "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," the group said in a statement. "Remember the 11th of September 2001."
Evoking the 9/11 attacks for a movie scheduled for release on Christmas appeared to be the rhetorical touch necessary to doom the movie from reaching theaters. Sony canceled all press for the film, including its New York premiere, and reportedly told exhibitors that the studio would not object if they chose not to screen the movie. Within 24 hours, that is exactly what happened, with the top four theater chains — Regal, AMC, Cinemark, and Carmike — all electing to pull the film from their theaters.
Without exhibitor support, it was an almost foregone conclusion that Sony would have no choice but to pull the film outright.
In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners' decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.
A studio spokesperson released a statement to BuzzFeed News that Sony "has no further release plans" for The Interview.
Sony Pictures has canceled the release of The Interview worldwide, the studio announced in a statement on Thursday.
While Sony Pictures has pulled The Interview from theaters worldwide, the studio has also not firmly decided the film will never be seen by the public. A source close the situation told BuzzFeed News that there are "no discussions at this time" about what to do with the movie, but that does not preclude the possibility that there could be discussions at a later date. When that discussion could happen likely depends on factors outside of the studio's control, including how the Obama administration chooses to respond to North Korea's alleged involvement in the hack. But there appears to be at least a fighting chance The Interview will eventually see some kind of release.
On Friday, Sony Pictures released a statement confirming what BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday about the film eventually being seen by the public: "The decision not to move forward with the December 25 theatrical release of The Interview was made as a result of the majority of the nation’s theater owners choosing not to screen the film. This was their decision. Let us be clear – the only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theaters, after the theater owners declined to show it. Without theaters, we could not release it in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice. After that decision, we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform. It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so."
On Tuesday, some theaters announced they will screen The Interview on Dec. 25 after all.