Roughly a week after Sony decided to pull “The Interview” from its Christmas day release after hackers threatened to attack theatres showing the film, the production company has reportedly changed its mind.
Tim League, founder of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, and The Dallas Morning News both report that Sony plans to allow theatres to screen the film on Dec. 25 after all.
Sony’s decision may have been influenced by three factors:
- It couldn’t make as much money by releasing The Interview online as much as it could make from theatres. Early reports said Sony could lose $US100 million by pulling “The Interview” from theatres, and it doesn’t look like there were any good online alternatives. It couldn’t strike a deal with Dish Network, its own video on-demand service Crackle is free and changing the structure would have taken too much time (also handling the bandwidth load would have been problematic), and releasing it for free would have been great for people, but bad for the company’s bottom line. Maybe it will spend some time in 2015 to make Crackle into a service that might be able to handle issues like this in the future.
- The hackers promised Sony that their hacked data would remain secure unless they made “additional trouble” — Sony probably realised that was a bogus bargain. Why would Sony trust a group of hackers to not release any more information, after the damage they had already done? Sony probably realised it couldn’t take an anonymous group’s word at face value, or any value, and they probably realised their threats were bogus. Even if the hackers leaked more information, Sony would rake in millions of dollars due to all the extra advertising this film has received, now that the film has become national news.
- If terrorists actually did attack theatres that showed the film, it would effectively be an act of war. Sony was coerced because the hackers were anonymous; if a physical attack actually happened, it would be pretty easy to find the source of the attacks at that point. And it wouldn’t be Sony’s fault: This has already become a national news story, so the military and government would get involved with any kind of attack on US citizens. Threatening terrorism is one thing; carrying it out is something else entirely.
We can’t call this change of heart a “victory,” even though Sony is now authorizing theatres to show “The Interview”: The company caved at the first sign of a threat, and that’s not a good precedent. But even after a week of nonstop news about the subject, with even the president weighing in on the matter, it’s good to see that the company has come to its senses, knowing that these threats should not be taken seriously or, at the very least, acknowledged.