Sony to allow limited screenings of 'The Interview,' smaller theaters rebook

President Obama was correct to criticize Sony, and by extension the theater owners and distributors, for caving in to threats so quickly. The consequences open up other American businesses to extortion that would be very hard to combat.

Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP
Brandon Delaney, general manager of the Plaza Theatre, in Atlanta, Ga., finishes hanging the marquis Tuesday to announce that the theatre will be showing 'The Interview.' Sony Pictures Entertainment announced a limited Christmas Day theatrical release for the comedy that provoked an international incident with North Korea and outrage over its canceled release.

Reversing a decision it had made at the end of last week after every major film distributor and theater chain had backed out of showing the film, Sony Pictures has decided to make "The Interview," the Seth Rogan/James Franco comedy that depicts the assassination of Kim Jong-un and came to be at the center of a hacking attack and threats of violence from sources the FBI has traced to North Koreaavailable for screening after all:

At least to some extent, this decision brings to an end what had turned into something of a public relations disaster for Sony that started when the president criticized the company for deciding to pull the movie, a criticism he did not back down from even when Sony pointed out that it had little choice in the matter when virtually its entire distribution chain had pulled out of deals to screen the movie starting on Christmas Day.

Balancing out the public relations side of the equation, of course, is the issue of the threat that there will be renewed hacking attacks, not just against Sony but also against the companies affiliated with the theaters that will show the movie. There are also the threats of actual violence directed at the theaters showing the movie, but it has never been entirely clear just how credible those threats actually are, and in any case one imagines that there will be stepped up security at the theaters where the movie will be screened as well as the corporate offices of the theater owner(s), just in case.

Overriding both of these concerns, of course, is the issue of the monetary hit that Sony would take from pulling the movie on a permanent basis. According to some reports, The Interview cost over $40 million and Sony’s total losses from shelving the movie permanently would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $75 million, if not higher, including marketing costs. Given that, it’s not entirely surprising that the company would look for a way to get the movie out there in an effort to recoup at least some of its losses. The question now will be whether North Korea, or whomever has been running the hacking attacks on its behalf, will respond further.

While I can’t say I have any overriding desire to see this movie, or indeed anything else in the genre of comedies that it belongs to, it is good to see that it’s at least being released. President Obama was correct to criticize Sony, and by extension the theater owners and distributors, for caving in to threats so quickly. The only thing that doing so accomplishes is to send a message that such activity can be used to accomplish similar goals in the future. At some point, we have to agree as a society that responding that way to threats, whether it's from anonymous hackers or agents of a foreign government, simply isn't acceptable. The consequences otherwise are to open up other American businesses, if not the government itself at some point, to a 21st century version of extortion that would be very hard to combat or prevent. So, in that sense, I guess, good for Sony for letting the movie go forward.

Doug Mataconis appears on the Outside the Beltway blog at

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 to allow limited screenings of 'The Interview,' smaller theaters rebook
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today