Sony is in the midst of determining how and when to release its controversial comedy “The Interview” to the public, as threats from hackers and their alleged North Korean backers continue.
The media giant has been reeling from a massive Nov. 24 hacking, as well as a torrent of criticism from within Hollywood and Washington for its decision to pull the film from theaters ahead of its scheduled Christmas Day release. The comedy depicts the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un.
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“Sony has been fighting to get this picture distributed. It will be distributed,” Sony attorney David Boies said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.“ ”How it’s going to be distributed, I don’t think anybody knows quite yet, but it’s going to be distributed.” Sony has maintained that they only postponed the film due to pressure from theater chains, a claim which movie houses have in turn refuted.
The company has called a New York Post report that the film will be streamed for free on Sony’s on-demand service Crackle “premature.” The clock might be running out for Sony, since the infamous hacking collective known as Anonymous has reportedly threatened to release the movies themselves on Dec. 25 if Sony doesn’t.
“We’re not with either side, we just want to watch the movie too … and soon you too will be joining us. Sorry, @SonyPictures,” someone claiming to represent the group tweeted from a now deactivated account.
Meanwhile, North Korea has ratcheted up its rhetoric against the United States. After calling for a joint investigation with the U.S. into the cause of the Sony hack attack, the communist regime went on to make threats of reprisal against America, who they blame for the controversy, in the form of attacks on the White House, Pentagon and U.S. mainland. As the story continues to unfold, North Korea is grappling with its own Internet woes. According to NBC News, the country is experiencing a major connectivity outage, but the cause of the problem is still unknown. The U.S. State Department denied any role in the North Korean Internet slowdown on Monday.
“We aren’t going to discuss publicly operational details about the possible response options or comment on those kind of reports in anyway except to say that as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen,” said State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said at a briefing.
The Obama administration has stopped short of calling the North Koreans alleged involvement in the hacking an “act of war,” much to the ire of some conservatives. “The government of North Korea has a long history of denying responsibility for destructive and provocative actions,” Harf added. “If they want to help here, they can admit their culpability and compensate Sony for the damages that they caused.” The White House is also reportedly weighing placing North Korea on the short list of nation’s that sponsor terrorism in the wake of the scandal.
The Obama administration had previously said that they were considering a “proportionate” response to North Korea’s alleged involvement in the Sony hacking. Some critics have called the administration’s response too genteel and have pushed the president to screen “The Interview” at the White House.
Rep. Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, has personally reached out to Sony to request that they show the movie to members of Congress on Capitol Hill so lawmakers can “know and see, what we’re talking about.”
“Screening The Interview will demonstrate the U.S. Congress’s support of the freedom of speech,” Sherman wrote Sony in a letter, “This is about our right to live without fear, and knowing that our values will not be compromised by the idle threats of a despotic regime. Good or bad, Americans should not be deprived of the opportunity to see this movie.”
In New York City, First Amendment advocates at the Treehouse Theater are planning to stage a reading of the screenplay for “The Interview” this weekend, according to The New York Times. The performance will feature comedians from the legendary Upright Citizen Brigade Theater and has been advertised as “an opportunity for people to come together in the name of free speech, in defiance of all who have threatened it.”