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Major Theater Chain Bails On The Interview Following Threat

The fallout from the Sony hacking has just taken another unfortunate turn, though this one is of the self-inflicted variety. Concerned about the most recent round of threats, despite the Department Of Homeland Security declaring they’re not credible, Sony has offered to let theater chains around the country opt out of screening The Interview. One large chain has already taken them up on that offer too.

The theater in question that’s pulling out is Carmike Cinemas. The organization operates some 278 theaters across the United States, and while an official reason wasn’t given for why, it seems pretty clear that it’s directly related to the most recent round of threats that promised 9/11-style violence on any screenings of The Interview, including the film’s New York City Premiere.

Celebrities like Judd Apatow have taken to Twitter to loudly proclaim they will still see the flick in theaters, but it’s a little hard for many to take the words seriously when Sony and Landmark Theaters canceled the film’s own New York City premiere, according to The Hollywood Reporter. After all, is it really fair to ask people to have a backbone when the studio and at least one theater chain apparently lack one?

In addition, rumors are swirling that other studios are pressuring movie theater chains into pulling The Interview. Apparently, they’re concerned people will stay away on Christmas and won’t see their movies if The Interview is playing down the hall and the threat of violence is hanging over the whole thing. That might be true in a small minority of cases, but unfortunately, it ignores the inherent risk pulling the movie has for the rest of Hollywood. The reason why people don’t like negotiating with terrorists isn’t because there’s a moral stand to be taken, it’s because negotiating sends a message to everyone else that you’ll negotiate in the future. Consequently, pulling The Interview is a really slippery slope and potentially opens the door to the number of complaints and threats skyrocketing in the future.

This whole thing is difficult for both the studios and the movie theaters. No one expected to be put into this position when Sony decided to green light Seth Rogen and James Franco’s comedy. The film is obviously in poor taste. Anyone could have predicted North Korea would be pissed, but other hilarious comedies have been in poor taste as well and have escaped without major conflict. They couldn’t have reasonably expected for it to lead to this, but now that we’re here, showing the movie is about a whole lot more than theater grosses. There has to be an obligation to stand up and push through, otherwise, where is the line? And what's to stop hackers from getting any other movie they don't like pulled?

At this point, there is no reason to think any movie theaters will be targeted on Christmas Day, whether they’re showing The Interview or not. If something changes, expect the Department Of Homeland Security to loudly shout that.

Mack Rawden

Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.