Today has not been a great day for Sony—which is saying something after weeks of very bad days.
First, Seth Rogen and James Franco announced that they were canceling press appearances for their embattled comedy [The Interview](movie:900924), which tells the story of a pair of journalists tasked with assassinating North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Following a leak of some of Sony's most confidential documents, the still-unknown hackers threatened an attack on par with 9/11 if Sony moved forward with the movie's Christmas release. At the time of this news, Sony was quick to make clear that promotion would continue in the future.
Later today, however, theater operators like Bow Tie Cinemas and Carmike made announcements that stated, out of safety concerns for their audiences, they would not be screening The Interview on December 25. Soon after, all of the major theater chains (AMC, Regal, Cinemark, and Cineplex) began pulling the movie from their release schedules. That decision meant the film would be relegated to independent cinemas who were bold enough to screen the comedy in spite of the threats.
Then, Sony Pictures recently announced plans to scrap the Christmas release of The Interview. The crux of their statement boasts a commitment to audiences' safety:
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.
Some theaters, including Regal, are merely delaying the film's opening (as opposed to outright canceling it), but now they will have to wait until Sony chooses a time to distribute.
This is an unprecedented event in Hollywood—one that could only occur during the Internet Age—and many critics of the decision are worrying about the precedent that is being set. Will more studios be forced to bow to outside threats if well-organized detractors make strong enough waves, or is this an exceptional case that is as history-making as it is terrifying?
Do you agree with Sony's decision to pull The Interview's release, or should the studio have taken the risk by ignoring the hackers' demands?