Sony will release 'The Interview' after all. Why the reversal?

There are several reasons Sony is now releasing 'The Interview' to independent theaters for Dec. 25. But one big one might be that 'The Interview' is now all-American.

David Goldman/AP
A worker removes poster for the movie 'The Interview' from a display case at a Carmike Cinemas movie theater in Atlanta last week. But some independent theaters have now said they will show 'The Interview' on Christmas Day.

“The Interview” will appear in public after all. Sony Pictures Entertainment on Tuesday announced that the embattled movie about an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be screened in a scattering of independent theaters on Dec. 25, the day it was originally supposed to be released.

Sony also intimated that the film will be available through some sort of video-on-demand service, though details aren’t yet set.

“We are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech,” said Sony Entertainment Chief Executive Michael Lynton in a statement.

It has only been a few days since Sony pulled the film from general theatrical release in the face of vague threats about violence from hackers who crashed Sony computers and stole a vast trove of company information. The US government has since said that it believes North Korea itself was the driving force behind the hack.

That context has not changed. So why has Sony suddenly changed its mind?

The embarrassment of having caved to Pyongyang might be one reason.

It made business sense to pull “The Interview” from full release – the owners of major theater chains had already said they wouldn’t screen the flick. Nobody in Hollywood wanted to drive fearful patrons away from cineplexes at the Christmas season.

But the abrupt nature of Sony’s original decision, and the thinly-veiled glee North Korea showed at the action, turned into a public relations debacle for Sony executives. A CNN poll found that 62 percent of Americans felt the company had “overreacted.”

Sony needed a way to make its retreat look less total. By showing the movie somewhere, Sony gets to say it has stood up to the bad guys, whether it really has or not. (See “free speech” statement above).

Another reason the film will now light up the dark of the inside of an actual theater is money. Sony was staring at a loss of more than $100 million if it just ditched the movie entirely. Now it gets a chance to start a trickle of revenue flowing from the film. Given the publicity “The Interview” has received, that trickle could even turn into a flood once movie-goers become convinced it’s safe to buy a ticket.

But the biggest reason Sony swerved is probably this one: “The Interview” has become a national security issue. Against all odds and/or common sense, a risqué buddy comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco (or “James Flacco,” as President Obama said at last week’s press conference) has become a symbol of American freedom. The chief executive of the nation has said Sony made a mistake by not showing the movie. So they’ll show it – because Mr. Obama’s comments have effectively nationalized the movie’s defense.

We agree with Dave Smith at Business Insider on this one: Any physical attack on a theater screening the movie will in essence be “an act of war.” That means the primary response would come from the White House, not Sony’s executive suite.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Sony will release 'The Interview' after all. Why the reversal?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today