If you've been reading the news at all lately, or even the fine ramblings of Julie here at Hammervision, you know about the Sony hack. Over the past few weeks, we've seen an endless supply of e-mails, celebrity aliases, salaries, name-calling, leaked Bond scripts, leaked movies (Annie, anyone?), class action lawsuits, Spider-Man negotiations, and more. Gossip mills have been churning. Aaron Sorkin is writing essays. North Korea has declared The Interview an act of war. And, Sony is reeling.
Yesterday, news hit that the Guardians of Peace ("GOP"), the hackers behind all this nonsense, issued a threat to movie theaters across the country. The message in a nutshell: show The Interview at your theater, and people will die. I mean, fuck - they even evoked 9/11 to describe what theater owners could expect. This isn't the first threat issued by the GOP (who could really use some grammar skills to accompany their terrorist inclinations) - they previously threatened Sony employees, asking them to denounce their association with the company. But, this recent threat has a direct impact on me, so I'm writing about it.
Don't know what The Interview is? Hard to believe at this point, but okay. It's a movie starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, where the two play tabloid journalists recruited by the C.I.A. to kill Kim Jung Un after nabbing an exclusive interview with him. It's the latest film from writer-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Their last effort, This Is the End, was a huge hit, and also happened to be very funny to boot. Based on its early Rotten Tomatoes score (46%), The Interview may not reach the same critical or commercial heights.
But, will it even get a chance to do so? In the wake of the GOP's threat (by the way, North Korea has denied any connection to the GOP hacks), five of the biggest chains - AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Carmike, and Cineplex - have declined to show the movie in their theaters and/or decided to delay its release, and Sony has issued a statement to theater owners telling them that they can do what they want and Sony will respect their decision. Now, Homeland Security has come out to say that the threat is not credible, and, let's be honest, the GOP are just computer hackers at this point. But, the damage has clearly been done.
Box office for The Interview will take a gigantic hit. Will it play in any theaters? Franco and Rogen have pulled out of all of their public promotional appearances. Theaters are either not going to show it, or people will avoid seeing it. And, not just The Interview. All movies will likely take a hit. I mean, if you're worried about going to see The Interview, you're probably worried about seeing a movie in the auditorium next to the one showing The Interview. This is bad news for everyone - not just Sony. The Christmas holiday is typically a box office bonanza, but it could be very muted this year.
Screw that noise. I'm a moviegoer. Nobody's going to stop me from seeing a movie. Is The Interview worth dying over? No way. Not at 46%. Maybe if it had a Rotten Tomatoes score of 85%, the answer might be different, but still. If we all give in, and avoid movie theaters on Christmas Day, the terrorists win. That is exactly what they want to happen. I don't want to give them the satisfaction.
What sort of precedent does that set anyway? If some crazies disagreed with an artist or didn't like the particular message of a film, they could just issue a threat and indirectly force people not to see it. That's a slippery slope I don't want to go down. Granted, not every terrorist will be as successful as the GOP. In fact, one of the reasons I think people are so shaken up about their threats is that the GOP was so effective at hacking Sony. They've sort of been able to put their money where their mouth is.
Look, The Interview may suck. Actually, in light of all these theater chains dropping the film, if Sony were smart, they would just bypass theaters at this point and make it available on iTunes RIGHT NOW. I mean, talk about free publicity.... Strike while the iron's hot! I think many people would want to check out the movie, provided there's no risk of death, however credible or not the threat may be. I still want to see The Interview, but I also want to see Into the Woods, The Imitation Game, and Unbroken. I remain undeterred. Could that change? Oh sure. Let's see how the next few days pan out.
I don't believe in Sony. In fact, I'm kinda actively rooting for the company to lose the rights to Spider-Man so they can go back to Marvel. But, I do believe in our moviegoing rights. And, I believe in the artists' right to make the film they want to make, even if it is a dumb stoner comedy. I'd probably draw the line if The Interview somehow triggered World War III, but c'mon, you still have to admit - that'd make for a pretty wicked chapter in future history books. "Seth Rogen Starts World War III." Heck, I'd go see that movie too.