Sony to release 'The Interview' after all?

Two days after saying it wouldn't release the controversial film, the movie maker now says it wants to offer customers a way to see it "on a different platform."

Seth Rosenblatt Former Senior Writer / News
Senior writer Seth Rosenblatt covered Google and security for CNET News, with occasional forays into tech and pop culture. Formerly a CNET Reviews senior editor for software, he has written about nearly every category of software and app available.
Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Seth Rosenblatt
Ian Sherr
3 min read

"The Interview" has been called off, or has it? Sony Pictures

"The Interview" was called off. Be prepared for "The Interview."

Despite the biggest movie theater chains in America bailing on Sony Pictures' comedy "The Interview," the filmmaker says it is exploring alternative options for releasing the movie.

The movie giant said in a statement Friday it is considering releasing the controversial film, two days after announcing its cancellation. "It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so," said Sony Pictures in an emailed statement.

The reversal is the latest twist in the dramatic hacking attack that has gripped the entertainment and technology industries. Sony, one of the largest technology companies in the world, was threatened and then attacked by hackers, who breached its systems, stole thousands of documents and released them on the Web. The ensuing fallout has been a mix of devastation, embarrassment and frustration for both Sony and its partners. Meanwhile, the hackers continued to demand that "The Interview," which centers on an assassination plot against North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un, not be released.

Sony Pictures caved on Wednesday, confirming it would cancel the film's theatrical debut, adding it had "no further release plans for the film." The movie was supposed to open Christmas Day, after being delayed from October in the hopes of attracting a larger audience. After hackers made threats that theaters screening the film would be attacked, Sony gave the big chains the option not to show the movie. They bowed out.

The move ignited a debate about the limits of free speech, and what precedent Sony set by canceling its film. Film and TV heavyweights such as Judd Apatow, Jimmy Kimmel and Rob Lowe expressed frustration with the film's cancellation.

Calling off the film's release was "an un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent," Kimmel said in a tweet.

"Do whatever you can to get this movie out," pleaded George Clooney, in an interview with Deadline. "Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I'm not going to be told we can't see the movie."

Outrage over the movie's cancellation even reached the White House. President Obama said during a press conference on Friday that Sony's decision to not release the film was a mistake.

"We cannot have a society in which some dictators some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States," he said. "If somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing once they see a documentary that they don't like or news reports that they don't like."

Some theaters have said they still want to screen the film. Others, such as Texas' Alamo Drafthouse, offered to screen alternatives, such as "Team America: World Police," a 2004 comedy whose central plot focused on Kim-Jong Il, the father of North Korea's current ruler. Paramount Pictures, which distributes the film, is said to have canceled those screenings as well.

BitTorrent, a file-sharing technology company, offered to help Sony disseminate the movie through its for-pay distribution service called BitTorrent Bundle.

"BitTorrent Bundle is in fact the very best way for Sony to take back control of their film, to not acquiesce to terrorists threats, and to ensure a wide audience can view the film safely," the company said in a statement. "It would also strike a strong note for free speech."

Sony, in its statement, appeared to agree as it back-tracked on the cancellation. "Free expression should never be suppressed by threats and extortion," the studio said.