This image released by Columbia Pictures shows James Franco, left, and Seth Rogen in "The Interview."
Photo by Ed Araquel/Columbia Pictures/AP

Hollywood retreats in the face of threats

I’ll concede that the entertainment industry is pretty far from my usual beat, but the story of North Korea, Sony, and “The Interview” is obviously no longer just a story about a movie.
And while there are obviously policy concerns related to national security and cyber-attacks, even at a surface level, it’s hard not to notice the speed with which Hollywood is retreating, just over the last 24 hours.
For example, as you’ve probably heard, the movie studio has already scrapped distribution of the movie.
Sony Pictures decided to pull its upcoming comedy “The Interview” from distribution Wednesday amid security concerns and news that the five largest movie theater chains in the U.S. had decided to hold off on screening the film.
A handful of theaters intended to respond to the developments by screening “Team America,” a puppet movie that casts Kim Jung-il in a negative light, but apparently those plans are off, too.
Paramount Pictures ordered movie theaters planning to screen Team America: World Police to cancel the screenings.
If that weren’t quite enough, it appears yet another film that might bother North Korea has now been scrapped before production could even begin.
According to, plans for a “paranoid thriller” set in North Korea and starring Steve Carell have been scrapped in the wake of a cyber attack against Sony Pictures that eventually led to the postponement of “The Interview.” A source close to the project confirmed that production company New Regency had stopped development on the untitled film after Twentieth Century Fox pulled distribution plans.
I can think of instances in which various movies have been the subject of protests and boycotts, but is there any precedent for Hollywood fearing literal, physical violence from a foreign government and its allies?
As for U.S. officials, as Rachel noted on the show last night, President Obama told ABC yesterday that if there was evidence of a “serious and credible” national security threat related to the movie, the government would alert the public, but in the meantime, he’d recommend “that people go to the movies.”
Today, Obama administration officials, who believe the evidence connects North Korea to the cyber-attack on Sony Entertainment, went further and said they are considering a “range of options” in response.
[Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson]told mnsbc’s Andrea Mitchell on Thursday that his department considers the hacking a “very serious attack.” […]
White House Press Secretary John Earnest also spoke on the Sony hacking at his presidential briefing on Thursday. He cautioned that the U.S. wants to have a “proportional response” to avoid getting provoked into a response that the perpetrators might have been seeking.
We’ll have more on this on tonight’s show, but for now, here’s Rachel’s coverage from last night, which included a fascinating interview with David Sanger, national security correspondent for the New York Times,