ABC News, TMZ, The Frame

Sony Pulls Plug on ‘The Interview’ — Will Shelve It. Why the Movie Used the Name of a Country’s Real Leader

Dec 17, 2014  •  Post A Comment

“As major movie chains moved to pull ‘The Interview’ from their holiday lineups after threats from the Sony Corp. hackers, Sony has decided to shelve the film,” ABC News reports.

The action-comedy movie concerns two guys on a mission to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The report quotes a statement from Sony saying: “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.”

The story adds: “The moves came shortly after Sony told theaters they do not have to show ‘The Interview,’ after the group claiming responsibility for stealing troves of Sony executives’ emails posted a message on Pastebin apparently threatening attacks on the theaters where the movie will be played, sources said. Actors James Franco and Seth Rogen also canceled all press appearances in light of the threats, a representative for Rogen said.”

The story also notes: “The Department of Homeland Security said the threat is not backed up by any ‘credible intelligence.’”

TMZ reported today: “Sony execs are now convinced someone who worked for the studio is behind the massive hacking because no one from the outside could so precisely target the compromising information.

“Multiple sources connected to the studio tell TMZ the strong, prevailing view is that the North Koreans are probably involved, but they used someone with intimate knowledge of the Sony email system to laser in on the most embarrassing information.”

“The Frame,” a program on public radio station KPCC in Los Angeles, interviewed “The Interview” screenwriter Dan Sterling on its program that aired Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. Here’s an excerpt. The interviewer is the well-respected veteran entertainment reporter John Horn:

John Horn: From the very beginning, was the idea that it would be the real leader [North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who would be named in the film]?

Dan Sterling: It never occurred to me that we would be able to use the real leader’s name. I wrote the script — without any instructions from anybody — with a fake name. At the time, Kim Jong-Il was the leader of North Korea. I wrote a name called Kim Il-Wan and that was the version that the studio greenlit. Once the movie had been greenlit, we were having an early pre-production meeting. We agreed in that meeting with the executives, and with Seth [Rogen] and Evan [Goldberg, who co-directed the film with Rogen] there, that I ought to go off and see what happens, try and write a draft with Kim Jong-un and just see how it looks. … As soon as I did it, Seth, Evan and I all knew that this was absolutely the way to go. 

Horn: There was concern, but not resistance from the studio. In other words, they said, “I guess we’re in?” Was there a negotiation about how real this person was going to be?

Sterling: Not at first, but when we got up to Vancouver we were getting towards production. Seth and Evan got a call and the studio said that you guys should change it to something else or shoot it in a way that we can take out that name if we need to. Seth and Evan resisted …

Horn: Resisted as in said no?

Sterling: I wasn’t on the phone conversation, but I think they were pretty firm in their objection to that note, and I think ultimately the studio said, Do what you’ve got to do, I guess. 

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One Comment

  1. It astonishes me how short sighted we are sometimes. If this had been the other way around and the N Koreans had made a movie targeting our president, we would have hauled out every homeland security resource available. What makes us think it’s wrong for another country to react the same way? What an embarrassment this movie is to our global relations. Next time, pick a fictitious name. Simple solution.

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