Sony Pictures Entertainment has dropped the film The Interview due to terrorist threats to blow up theaters if the movie was displayed next week. Scheduled to release on Christmas Day, major movie theater chains opted not to screen the film.
Starring James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan and Randall Park, the action-comedy depicts the fictional assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
The North Korean government declared the film an “act of war.”
Known as the “Guardians of Peace,” the hackers warned theater operators Tuesday stating, ” ‘The world will be full of fear,’ the group said. ‘Remember the 11th of September 2001.’”
Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture for the Media Research Center, says thousands of Americans have died in wars over the years to protect the various freedoms many enjoy today.
“A third world nation with nuclear weapons has threatened us with another 9/11,” said Gainor. “I lost several of my classmates on Sept. 11 and I know what that means.
Gainor maintains that even if The Interview is a bad movie Americans have the right to see it.
“The idea that we are going to allow wackos in a hermit kingdom to tell us what movie we can watch is absurd,” Gainor added. “No dictator in another country has the right to tell us whether we can see it or not.”
Did Sony Pictures bow to pressure?
Many believe Sony gave into North Korea because its $40 million film depicts the fictional assassination of its leader.
Sony said in a statement:
“In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.
Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”
The US State Department claims it approved the film over the summer.
The National Security Council issued a statement of its own:
“We are aware of Sony’s announcement regarding ‘The Interview.’ The United States respects artists’ and entertainers’ right to produce and distribute content of their choosing. The U.S. government has no involvement in such decisions. We take very seriously any attempt to threaten or limit artists’ freedom of speech or of expression.”
Some say the cyber attack on Sony could be one of the worst ever lodged on an American business.
In late November Guardians of Peace hackers compromised Sony’s email system and stole data. The FBI believes North Korea directed the cyber attack using at least one server in Bolivia to distribute malware.
According to The Hollywood Reporter the hackers released more Sony files on Saturday, promising to release more. Claiming to be with the GOP, ane of the hackers distributed an email to media outlets that listed two web addresses where new Sony information was posted.
"The email also said that a 'Christmas gift' would be arriving soon that will 'put Sony Pictures into the worst state,'" reported The Hollywood Reporter. "Countless Sony files, revealing everything from embarrassing email threads to salary details, have been released online following a November 24 cyber attack on the studio."
Sony employees report that at the time of the initial cyber attack computer monitors displayed a skeleton and the words “Hacked By #GOP.”
According to the Associated Press hackers disclosed private emails sent by top Sony executives, made public thousands of employee Social Security numbers and leaked five new Sony films, including Annie, which opens next week.
Former presidential candidate and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says Sony Pictures and the Obama Administration has allowed terrorists to control American media.
“No one should kid themselves. With the #Sony collapse America has lost its first cyberwar. This is a very, very dangerous precedent. Sony should release #TheInterview online for free so #NorthKorea can’t censor American creativity,” Gingrich wrote on Twitter.
Former Massachusetts Gov. and two-time presidential candidate Mitt Romney gained traction of his own on Twitter. He’s 140 characters or less was the #1 trending topic Wednesday evening.
“@SonyPictures don’t cave, fight: release @TheInterview free online globally. Ask viewers for voluntary $5 contribution to fight #Ebola,” Romney said in a tweet.
While some speculate the studio will eventually release the film, Sony executives say no release is planned in theaters or video-on-demand.
According to The Wrap yet another Hollywood production company has pulled the plug on its film about North Korea.
New Regency was slated to begin filming Steve Carell’s movie Pyongyang based on the novel of the same name by Guy Delisle and his experiences working in North Korea for a year.
“Hollywood is running scared because it is afraid of being hacked,” said Gainor. “That is the essence of terrorism. When you altar what you do out of fear of the people attacking you.”
Many Hollywood elites are also angry at Sony’s decision to cancel the film. Gainor believes freedom of speech is worth fighting for and is concerned groups like ISIS could challenge faith-based films that go against Muslim beliefs.
“I don’t care if crazy Kim Jong-un is going to put a bomb in my mailbox for saying what I’m going to say. Darn it – I’m going to say it because I’m an American. Too many better people than me – whether its my uncle who died in Italy during World War II or the hundreds of thousands of others who have died for these freedoms – I’m not going to allow another compatriot to get away from me.”
Could 2015 bring more cybercrimb?
Founder of Arizona Cyber Warfare, the world’s largest privately funded cyber warfare range, warns that 2015 will see an even greater number of cyber attacks.
Cyber expert Brett Scott, Chief Technology Officer of Livesquare Security, considers the Sony hack a “game changing” event for American businesses.
“This is one of those times you cannot ignore the fact that this threat has breeched a very large corporation with complete devastation,” Scott told USA Headline News.
In what cyber security expert’s call a “Fire Sale,” Scott warns the cybercrime leveled against Sony isn’t limited to Hollywood movies, as many believe.
“2015 is going to be a very big year for cyber security vulnerability and how little people are prepared for this type of threat.”
As senior administration officials claim, Scott doesn’t believe North Korea acted alone in its cyber attack against Sony Pictures computers. He states there is only one nation that has effectively mounted this type of attack.
August 15, 2012, Saudi Arabia’s national oil firm, Saudi Aramco, was struck by a malware attack where 30,000 workstations were brought to a standstill.
“The attack was almost identical to what happened with Sony,” said Scott. “That attack was perpetrated by Iran. Either Iran did it or there is a nixes where North Korea and Iran worked together.”
Scott believes cyber terrorists created malware specifically designed to breach Sony Pictures data security systems. He further believes Sony executives lost their will for freedom of expression and magnified the cybercrime by capitulating to the demands of North Korea.
“We will all suffer because these people did not standup to the enemy,” said Scott. “We’ve entered a time when heroes are being called out to this growing threat.”
Courtesy: USA Headline News
Photo: Screen shot image from "The Interview" trailer
Photo courtesy: USA Headline News
Publication date: December 19, 2014