UPDATE: Sony just announced it has canceled the release of The Interview, according to Deadline and the Wall Street Journal. It may not be possible for any theater, Cinefamily or otherwise, to officially screen the film.
After the Guardians of Peace threatened to unleash a 9/11-like attack on theaters that screen The Interview, five major North American theater chains have decided to drop the Sony Pictures movie. The film, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as tabloid journalists who are recruited to assassinate North Korean premier Kim Jong-Un, was supposed to come out on Christmas Day.
If you want to see The Interview, you won’t be able to catch it at a movie house owned by Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas, or Cineplex Entertainment, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Together these chains control almost half of the movie screens in North America.
But one theater in Los Angeles will happily show the movie—if they can get hold of it. Last night, after hearing that the Arclight had decided not to show The Interview, Hadrian Belove, the executive director of The Cinefamily, tweeted: “If @ArcLightCinemas won’t show The Interview, we will.”
Was he serious or was it just online grandstanding? “When it first started, I did not think the film was going to be pulled from as many theaters as it was,” Belove says. “Then someone told me on Twitter that the Grove and the Arclight had pulled it, and I thought “Oh, wow. Where would it play?” Suddenly it seemed a lot more real. This morning I called my rep at Sony to see if it was a realistic possibility and not just a humorous bit of internet drama. I am serious about showing it. I would do it. Of course I would do it.”
First, Belove will have to get a print (digital or otherwise) of the movie; whether he can do that is still up in the air. If he succeeds, he plans to screen it on Christmas, which means he might bump next week’s screenings of the holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life to show The Interview.
Although the Department of Homeland Security has said there’s no credible threat, this statement published by Variety and purportedly from the perpetrators of the Sony hack, has exhibitors running scared:
The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Is Belove worried that Cinefamily, a nonprofit indie cinema on Fairfax Avenue, will suffer a similar hack? “My website’s a mess anyways,” Belove says with a laugh. “If we were hacked it would give us a good excuse to revamp our computer system. Maybe it’s one of those ‘We don’t have a ton to lose’ kind of things. I don’t have a wife and kids. I think the hardest part would be getting staff to work on Christmas. We were planning on taking Christmas off, but maybe we’ll have to bring in special troops.”
Cinefamily doesn’t face the same pressures as a sprawling corporation with shareholders or a risk-averse executive board, but Belove takes a firm stand when it comes to creative expression and freedom of speech butting up against profitability: “I suspect the decision they’re making is not a thought-out, moral stance as much as it’s a strictly business piece of number-crunching. Who am I to say? I know what I can do as an individual running a nonprofit. I think it’s horseshit and I think that movies should be shown. It seems like a no-brainer to me.”