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Sony Entertainment have gone through the wringer recently with the “North Korean” hack and the corporation only fell after cinema chains chickened out leaving them no real avenue of showing The Interview except in the odd theater. AMC, Regal, Cinemark and others all pulled out after Sony rather rashly allowed them the option to do so. The corporation was already softened up by the cyberterrorists with a series of hacks that left the company reeling. Confidential and damning emails, which consisted of insulting revelations about the stars who make up the money making roster of talent that the higher ups apparently do not like, were splashed across the Internet. This on top of films being leaked and other disturbing details being made public, Sony could not take much more and the last threat of 9/11 type destruction at theatres who showed The Interview was that last straw.
Although even this final attack could have been ridden out, had they not allowed the cinema chains the right to not show the film on December 25, if anything had happened, even something not related to a terrorist type attack, lawsuits could have destroyed Sony or at least kept the organization tied up in court for years. While President Obama let Sony know that he was not pleased when they agreed to meet the demands being made and scrapped the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy, he was also not being entirely fair.
The White House has stated that they are “pleased” that alternative ways to show the film are being explored. Sadly, Sony seem to be no closer to discovering a means to show this costly exercise in political comedy. According to the company, no one has stepped forward to volunteer streaming the film and companies are not talking; iTunes and Netflix, for example, are keeping very quiet. Quite possibly for fear of having their systems hacked and getting their personal information spread across the net.
Since Sony only fell down after cinema chains chickened out, leaving them no option but to pull the “inflammatory” film, there appears to be a similar problem with Video on Demand, streaming and even DVD sales. When cyberterrorists take it to the next level, out of the world of electronic communication and computer storage systems, the obvious feeling is that no one is safe, so even factories who mass produce the DVD, or warehouses that store them, or retailers who attempt to sell them are wide open to threats of violence.
The one drawback to any knee jerk reaction to the promise of deadly violence against movie theaters is that Homeland Security did declare that the promise of retaliation was “not credible.” In other words, an empty threat. This final declaration of physical retaliation was, as a result, the only real straw dog in the mix. As George Clooney and his agent Bryan Lourd found out, Hollywood is not terrified of audiences being blown up. The powers that be are afraid of being attacked like Sony was and having valuable and damning information stolen and flashed across the net.
Clooney points out to DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD that if the press had done a little digging, along with governmental agencies, North Korea would have been proven to be the culprit from the very start and not just a suspect. He also points out that Sony did not pull the film out of fear, per se, but because of those possible lawsuits if anyone did die from a terrorist action in the cinema.
The Monuments Men star learned that when he and Bryan sent out a petition for the glitterati of Tinseltown to sign (What if we sent out a petition and no one signed it?) Sony were not alone and that they were not the only company who would fall. The cinemas chickening out did not help, but the truth is, the studios do not want to stand up to cyberterrorists. This act of defiance could make them the next target and like Sony before them, allow them to be sued for inadequate protection of resources and employee information. As signaled by the lack of names on the petition, no one wants to stand tall and tell Kim Jong-un or his people that America will not be pushed around by a cyber terror group, which means that the film may be shelved indefinitely, or until someone in the industry develops some cojones.
By Michael Smith