After Obama Blasts Its Surrender, Sony Decides to Release “The Interview” After All

Sony Corp.’s (TYO:6758) movie studio unit, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has had a rough couple weeks.  First it got hacked and the world found out its executives were massive jerks with racist tendencies (some of them, at least) behind closed doors.  Then North Korean hackers (supposedly) behind the attacks threatened “9/11” style attacks against movie theaters, causing the nation’s largest theater traded group to boycott The Interview.

And when Sony begrudgingly bowed to theaters’ wishes and pulled the plug even the President joined the flamefest, on Friday stating:
Well, look, I was pretty sympathetic to the fact that they have got business considerations they have got to — they have got to make.

And, you know, had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called the movie theater chains and distributors and asked them what the story was.

But what I was laying out was a principle that I think this country has to abide by. We believe in free speech. We believe in the right of artistic expression and satire and things that powers that be might not like. And if we set a precedent in which a dictator in another country can disrupt, through cyber, you know, a company’s distribution chain or its products, and, as a consequence, we start censoring ourselves, that’s a problem.

And it’s a problem not just for the entertainment industry. It’s a problem for the news industry. CNN has done critical stories about North Korea. What happens if, in fact, there’s a breach in CNN’s, you know, cyberspace? Are we going to suddenly say, well, we better not report on North Korea?

So, the key here is not to suggest that Sony was a bad actor. It’s making a broader point that all of us have to adapt to the possibility of cyber-attacks. We have to do a lot more to guard against them. My administration’s taken a lot of strides in that direction, but we need Congress to pass a cyber-security law. 
That criticism — along with a wealth of public outcry against SPE on the internet — may have forced Sony’s hand.

Obama spoke critically of Sony’s decision on Friday, prompting a reversal on Tuesday. [Image Source: AP]
James Franco, director of the film took to Instagram on Tuesday to announce Sony would be showing the film at willing theaters on Christmas Day (Dec. 25).


VICTORY!!!!!!! The PEOPLE and THE PRESIDENT have spoken!!! SONY to release THE INTERVIEW in theaters on XMAS DAY!

A photo posted by James Franco (@jamesfrancotv) on

Dec 12, 2014 at 10:26am PST


CELEBRATING!!!!! “The Interview” starring Seth Rogen and James Flacco saved by President Obacco! I MEAN PRESIDENT OBAMA!!!!! Sorry!!! ??????????

A photo posted by James Franco (@jamesfrancotv) on

Dec 12, 2014 at 10:31am PST

And Seth Rogen — costar of the film — also confirmed the news on Twitter Inc.’s (TWTR) microblogging platform.

The film will reportedly be shown at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, an 11-theater chain.  Alamo had previously planned to show Team America: World Police to fill in for The Interview, but was banned from screening that film, as well, by Viacom Inc. (VIA) subsidiary Paramount Pictures who feared North Korean retaliation.  The chain has theaters in California, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Texas, and Virginia.

Also showing the film will be the Plaza Atlanta.

A handful of other independent theaters and theater chains will be showing the film.

However, it is still expected to be boycotted by the major theater chains, who are afraid of North Korean “attacks”.  This means you likely won’t see the movie at theaters owned by the Regal Entertainment Group (RGC) (#1; 527 theaters in 37 states), AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (AMC) (#2; 347 theaters), and Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (CNK) (#3; 334 theaters in 40 states).  The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), America’s largest movie theater organization has refused to show the film.