Published On: Mon, Dec 22nd, 2014

Sony Had to Pull the Plug on ‘The Interview’ Michael Lynton Says

The Interview

Sony Pictures Entertainment chief executive Michael Lynton said on December 19 that the studio had “no alternative” but to cancel the release of its comedy about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because movie theater chains said they would not screen the film, Reuters said on December 21.

Lynton, speaking in a lengthy interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, was responding to comments made by President Barack Obama that the studio erred in shelving “The Interview” after cinemas refused to show it following unspecified threats from hackers, the report said.

“In this instance the president, the press and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened, ” Lynton said in his first public remarks since the cyberattack began last month.

Earlier on Friday, Obama said Sony should have released the film and not bowed to pressure from hackers.

“I wish they (Sony) would have spoken to me first, ” Obama said. “I would have told them, ‘Do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.'”

Lynton said he personally talked to senior White House advisers, who were “certainly aware of the situation.” But he did not speak with Obama, according to the report.

“We have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered and we have not backed down, ” Lynton said. “We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie.”

Lynton, who worked previously at book publisher Penguin Press, contrasted Hollywood’s response from the support the publishing world offered Penguin when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for the death of novelist Salman Rushdie in 1988, according to Reuters.

“The publishers, the booksellers always stocked the book and the authors all came out in support of the book, ” Lynton said. “That did not happen in this instance. In this instance we stood alone in trying to get a movie out.”

Lynton added that he still would like the public to see the film. “The Interview, ” starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, was set to be released on Dec. 25.

On December 19, Lynton sent a note to studio employees before their holiday break, thanking them for their work following the massive cyberattack, Variety said.

“I am enormously grateful for all of the hard work you’ve done these last few weeks and know that it has been incredibly taxing, ” he said.

Sony had declared on Wednesday that there were “no further release plans” for “The Interview” following terrorist threats by the hackers. On Friday, he asserted that Sony “immediately began actively surveying alternatives” to enable a release on a different platform.”

“It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so, ” Lynton added.

The hacking included disclosure of personal data of more than 47, 000 current and former Sony employees.

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