Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saturday at the Movies: "The Interview," North Korea, and The Guardians of Peace--You Can't Buy This Kind of Publicity

Sony didn't pull the movie because they're scared. They pulled the movie because all the theaters said they were not going to run it.

George Clooney

That is what happens when corporate lawyers begin using words like litigation and liability in the board rooms of theater chains. It is unclear exactly how North Korea could pull off a terrorist attack on your local AMC multiplex if it dared show a comedy about the assassination of its leader. However, the philosophy right now is its  best to err on the side of caution and avoid the chance of a massive payout.

Unfortunately caution in this instance appears a tad like cowardice. At least that's what it seems when you do exactly what the clowns who issued dire threats of terrorism want at the very moment they wanted it. Especially after Sony announced it would not release "The Interview" in any form and appeared ready to eat the entire $42 million the studio spent on making it.

At the moment the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is maintaining its innocence in the cyber attack on Sony Pictures. They say they have no idea who the hackers, the self proclaimed "Guardians of Peace," are, even though they did call the looting of Sony's electronic records, "a righteous deed." The FBI on the other hand disagrees and said, "the tools and infrastructure of the attack are similar to previous activity from North Korea."

After Barack Obama promised a proportionate response the North Koreans, God bless 'em, issued a statement offering a, "proposal for a joint investigation" into the hack attack. Then, typically, threatened the U.S. with, "serious consequences," if we didn't agree to the "proposal."

This after they called the movie, "A most blatant act of terrorism and war," and promised, "merciless counter measures" if it was released.

Well what do you expect from an outfit who used to routinely kidnap Japanese citizens and take them back to North Korea to teach their spies how to speak the language. Not to mention a place run by a dictator who executed his own uncle, according to one report, by feeding him to a pack of ravenous dogs. Yes, it is easy to see the concepts of freedom of expression and diplomacy just don't, as we say, compute in the DPRK.

Besides the proportional response bit, the president also said Sony had made a mistake by pulling the picture. Although, in all honesty, it seems silly to release it if the only place you can find to show it is The Winchester Drive In Theater in south Oklahoma City. Obama added, "We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship in the United States."

Sony pictures CEO, Michael Lynton shot back at Obama saying the company wanted everyone to see the film, seemingly confirming what Clooney said. That still doesn't explain why the corporation announced it wouldn't distribute the movie on DVD, or put it on some premium pay for view outlet. Of course Lynton knows exactly what sort of information is now in the hands of the Guardians of Peace which could be the reason. Indeed, the Amy Pascal-Scott Rudin jokes about what movies America's first black president likes may well be the least damaging emails which could be made public.

So, who knows if "The Interview," will ever see the inside of a theater, or not. One thing is for sure though--if Sony and some chain finds the courage, Seth Rogen and everyone else involved with making it, including the studio, are going to rake in tons of cash. The North Koreans and the Guardians of Peace, whoever and where ever they are, have guaranteed it.

As someone once said, you can't buy this kind of publicity.


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