Even after a massive cyber attack was perpetrated against Sony Pictures by hackers, it still appeared that Sony would release "The Interview" in theaters. Stars Seth Rogen and James Franco were participating in interviews and the studio went ahead with the film's world premiere in Los Angeles. "Before we start this, honestly, we just want to thank [Sony Pictures co-chair] Amy Pascal for having the balls to make this fucking thing!" Rogen said to the rowdy crowd on Dec. 11. Six days later, "The Interview" was pulled from release altogether. Ahead, a rundown of the events that led up to Sony's controversial decision.
Hackers make a threat against theaters that will show "The Interview." "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," hackers wrote in a note posted on Dec. 16. "Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001."
Seth Rogen and James Franco cancel their media appearances. Either one or both of the stars were scheduled for multiple interviews, including appearances with Seth Meyers and BuzzFeed. Those were canceled in the wake of the threat.
Sony tells theaters they can do what they want with the film. While Sony was not going to cancel release plans for "The Interview" on its own, the New York Times reported the company left the ultimate fate of the comedy in the hands of theater owners.
Carmike Cinemas drops plans to screen "The Interview." Based in Georgia, the company operates 278 theaters in 41 states.
Landmark's Sunshine Cinema cancels the New York premiere. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the theater made the call and not Sony.
Malls pressure the major movie theater chains to drop the film. According to the Los Angeles Times, mall owners "were putting pressure on theaters to bail on the movie, fearing any threat could scare away consumers during the busiest shopping season of the year."
AMC Entertainment, Regal Entertainment, Cineplex Entertainment and Cinemark announce they won't support "The Interview." Combined with Carmike and some other small companies, approximately 1,646 movie theaters in North America won't show the comedy. "Due to wavering support of the film 'The Interview' by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats, Regal Entertainment Group has decided to delay the opening of the film in our theaters," a representative for Regal said in a statement to The Huffington Post.
Sony pulls "The Interview" from theaters. The Sony statement:
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.
After rumors persist that Sony might release the film via on-demand services, the studio announces that likely won't happen. "Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film," a spokesperson says. According to The Hollywood Reporter's Matthew Belloni, that decision was potentially made with an eye toward insurance recovery.
Sony announces it won't release "The Interview" around the world either. It seems "no further release plans" extends to the international markets as well.
A source tells BuzzFeed that a future release is possible. While there are "no discussions at this time" about the future of "The Interview," BuzzFeed reports there "could be discussions at a later date."