The controversial new film The Interview has now been shelved. Sony Pictures has cancelled the New York City opening of this film, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco. The film, which features the fictionalized assassination of the North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Un, has caused Sony and its employees a great deal of grief in the past few weeks. Security breaches and leaks of confidential data, as well as published threats made against theaters that planned to air the new film, have caused Sony Pictures to halt the public release of the film. As well, the two lead actors have now been spotted with bodyguards, as they fear for their safety.
“The Interview”?had been slated for a Christmas Day release but due to the accumulation of credible threats, movie theater chains dropped plans to air it. The film’s stars have cancelled upcoming promos for and the ads have been dropped from media outlets. Sony had fallen victim to severe hacking attacks which, while North Korea denied involvement, United States
intelligence has determined was orchestrated by the North Korean government.
The movie cost about $44 million and had generated a lot of interest, although much of it was due to the controversy of the Sony data hacking and the threats that came to light.
According to the Huffington Post, several actors have tweeted their disappointment with Sony and with the film industry in general over the cancellation of the movie. Judd Apatow, Zach Braff, Mia Farrow and others have aired their anger over this.
There are many issues at play here. Should a film company kowtow to another country’s government over criticism of a film’s subject? Is this sweeping censorship or a safety plan? Are the North Korean threats credible? Is this merely a major embarrassment for Sony Pictures and the cast of The Interview, or is this a chilling moment in film development and creativity? Will there be long-lasting affects on the film industry, as some now predict, or will this be a footnote in movie history? How will this impact the careers of the lead actors, as well the directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg? To be continued…
Ellen Levitt is the author of The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn (2009), The Lost Synagogues of the Bronx and Queens (2011) and The Lost Synagogues of Manhattan (2013). (And hopefully a book about NJ one day, if her publisher gives the green light.)