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Sony Entertainment CEO Fires Back at President Obama in CNN Interview: ‘I would disagree with the notion that it was a mistake’ to Pull ‘The Interview.’ We Have the Entire CNN Transcript

Dec 20, 2014  •  Post A Comment

“Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, denying that the studio had ‘caved’ by scrapping next week’s opening of ‘The Interview,’ fired back Friday after President Obama said the studio had ‘made a mistake,’ ” reports CNN Money.

In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that was broadcast on “Anderson Cooper 360°” on Friday night, Dec. 19, 2014, Lynton said, “[I]n this instance, the president, the press and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened.

“We do not own movie theaters. We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters….”

“When it came to the crucial moment, when a threat came out from what was called the GOP at the time, threatening audiences who would go to the movie theaters, the movie theaters came to us one by one over the course of a very short period of time — we were completely surprised by it — and announced that they would not carry the movie.

“At that point in time, we had no alternative but to not proceed with the theatrical release on the 25th of December.”

To read a transcript of the entire Lynton interview, please click here.

Lynton added, “We have not caved. We have not given in. We have persevered and we have not backed down. We have — we have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie.”

However, on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, when Sony announced it was pulling the picture, ABC News reported, “’Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film,’ a Sony spokesperson said when asked about a digital or VOD release.”

Lynton said in Friday’s CNN interview, “There are a number of options open to us and we have considered those and are considering them. As it stands right now, while there have been a number of suggestions that we go out there and deliver this movie digitally or through VOD, there has not been one major VOD — video-on-demand distributor — one major e-commerce site that has stepped forward and said they are willing to, uh, distribute this movie for us.

“Again, we don’t have that direct interface with the American public. So we need to go through an intermediary to do that.”

However, a Bloomberg News story notes, “Sony also owns the Crackle online channel, as well as the PlayStation Network, which offers videos. A spokesman for Sony didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether it would use them for ‘The Interview.’” Besides movies that are offered on PlayStation game consoles, the PlayStation store website offers movies to buy and rent. And for a number of years Sony has had its Sony Movie Channel on pay TV.

In his remarks, President Obama said that he wished that Sony has spoken to him before it pulled “The Interview.” In response Lynton told Zakaria, “We definitely spoke to [a] senior adviser or a senior adviser in the White House to talk about the situation. The fact is, did we talk to the president himself … about what was happening … as the theaters started pulling back and [were] … unwilling to distribute the movie?  No. But the White House was certainly aware of the situation.”

And there was this exchange between Lynton and Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: Not only did the theaters all pull out, but you couldn’t get any of the major Hollywood studios to support you. George Clooney writes that he put out a petition and tried to get support. He couldn’t get a single person to sign it.  Have you been surprised at the fact that nobody has been willing to rally around you?

LYNTON: I am surprised, frankly. I mean I understand, on the one hand, that my fellow studios and everybody else has their own commercial concerns and they themselves were worried about becoming a target and it did make for a — make this entire enterprise to be a very, very lonely affair. But on the other hand, it — it, you know, this is a moment where you would expect the industry to rally around and support you.”

To read more about this story we urge you to click here and read the entire transcript of the CNN interview between Zakaria and Lynton. We thank CNN for providing us with the transcript.

CNN says the “full interview will encore at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014.”

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