North Korea suffers Internet attack
On Tuesday, Dec. 23, Sony Pictures Entertainment announced a limited theatrical release of its comedy “The Interview” beginning Christmas Day, putting back into theaters a much-anticipated film about a fictional plot to kill Kim Jong Un, which prompted international tensions with North Korea and sparked outrage over its cancelled release.
Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said Tuesday that “The Interview” would be released in a limited number of theaters on Christmas Day, adding that Sony is continuing its efforts to release the film on more platforms and in more theaters.
“We have never given up on releasing ‘The Interview’,” Lynton said. “While we hope this is only the first step of the film’s release, we are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech.”
Despite the recent threats made by the Sony cyber-hackers, an anonymous group which calls themselves the “Guardians of Peace,” Sony executives have decided not to pull the film, and instead are trying to secure digital partners to help distribute it either through online streaming or video-on-demand. Such a multi-format release would be historic for Hollywood, an industry which has long protected the tradition of theatrical release.
Sony did not immediately say how many theaters nationwide will screen the film, though as many as several hundred have shown interest, particularly many independent and “art house” venues.
The hack made last month on the major studio exposed leaked emails and scripts and sensitive corporate information, including terrorist threats against moviegoers, who were upset, but resilient in their support of the film.
The FBI previously linked the hack to North Korea, who has openly expressed its distaste for the film which mocks their cherished leader, Kim Jong Un. While the recluse nation has denied involvement and claims there is no substantial proof, it still threatened “full confrontation in all war spaces” to the US should it decide to retaliate for the hack.
There was no word from President Obama on how the White House plans to respond.
Moviegoers celebrated as “The Interview” began appearing in the listings of a handful of independent theaters on Tuesday, including the Alamo Drafthouse in Texas and Atlanta’s Plaza Theater.
Starring actor Seth Rogen tweeted once the news broke out: “The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn’t give up! The Interview will be shown at theaters willing to play it on Xmas day!”
“VICTORY!!!!!!! The PEOPLE and THE PRESIDENT have spoken!!!” said co-star James Franco in an Instagram post.
Rogen, who also co-directed the film with Evan Goldberg, hadn’t made any public comments about the hacking incident which sparked a heated discussion of international relations, Hollywood industry gossip, and led to tense confrontation between the US and North Korea.
A limited release of the movie could potentially be followed by expansion into larger multiplex chains, a rollout that has been used previously for controversial films such as “Zero Dark Thirty.” The country’s top theater chains—Regal, AMC and Cinemark—have not made any comment.
President Obama critiqued Sony for initially canceling the release, calling it “a mistake” that went against the American principles of free speech.
Releasing ‘The Interview’ could potentially cause a response from the hackers, although in a message last week to Sony, the hackers said the studio’s breached data would be safe so long as the film was never distributed.
North Korea also suffered sweeping Internet outages in an apparent attack Monday following President Obama’s vow to respond to North Korea’s alleged “cybervandalism” of Sony. The White House and State Department declined to say whether the US government was responsible for the attack.
New Hampshire-based company Dyn Research, which had been tracking North Korea’s spotty internet connection and reported the first outage on Monday, said that the country’s web access collapsed a second time the following day.
“I haven’t seen such a steady beat of routing instability and outages in KP before. Usually there are isolated blips, not continuous connectivity problems,” said Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they are absorbing some sort of attack presently.”
(With reports from The Associated Press, Business Insider)