Sony Pictures has officially deep-sixed the 12.25 theatrical opening of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg‘s The Interview. Freedom of speech is lying on the canvas and down for the count, and cyber-terrorism has won. It’s now 7:13 am in Pyongyang. Kim Jong-Un is ecstatic…rolling all over the floor in delight, giggling and high-fiving his staff. This is his only big triumph as North Korea’s leader. “Made it, pa…top of the world!” Two victory celebrations are currently being planned for tonight — one for the public and another for North Korean governmental and business elites. All rsvps must be received no later than 3 pm Pyongyang time. Dress will be formal. Open bar, hors d’oeuvres.
Meanwhile, Variety‘s Brent Lang is reporting that SPE “is weighing releasing the film on premium video-on-demand, according to an insider.” I was all over this option yesterday, of course. As Ben Stiller would say, “Do it…do it…do it.”
But if Sony execs are thinking about VOD, why are they cancelling press screenings left and right? They’d still want reviews for a VOD opening, right? Oh, right, of course…they’re afraid that North Korean rogue agents might attack.
That ridiculous NATO suggestion about “delaying” the theatrical opening of The Interview was so mashed-potatoes pathetic I don’t even want to talk about it. What would John Wayne do in this situation? I’ll tell you what he wouldn’t do. He wouldn’t talk about “delaying” anything. He would draw and fire or keep his gun holstered, period. We are truly living through The Age of the Executive Candy-Ass.
Sony’s statement: “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.”
Imagine John Wayne saying to his enemies in Rio Bravo as he surrenders his weapon and they take him and Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan prisoner, “You guys are a bunch of real assholes…and we are extremely disappointed by this outcome.” Imagine Gary Cooper‘s Will Kane saying this to the Frank Miller gang in High Noon. This is one of the most humiliating foregin-relations episodes in U.S. history. What would John Ford or Howard Hawks say?
A 12.25 VOD opening “would allow the studio to recoup some of the film’s $42 million budget and tens of millions in promotion and advertising expenditures,” Lang wrote. “It would also enable the studio to experiment with the potential of VOD, something it has been hesitant to do at the risk of angering major exhibitors. Traditionally, films must wait 90 days before they are released on home entertainment platforms.
Sony’s decision to cancel The Interview was sealed when they said to exhibitors, “Hmmm, we’re not sure…what do you guys think? We’re leaving it up to you. If you don’t want to play the movie we’re more or less okay with that.” This led to most of the country’s big exhibitors circuits (Regal, AMC, Regal, Cinemark and Carmike) deciding not to show the film.