We might as well all pack up and go home, because at the moment the bad-guys are winning. The repercussions of Sony’s hacking are now starting to be felt around the movie industry, as New Regency has announced that work on Steve Carell’s potential new film set in North Korea had now been stopped.
At the time of its cancellation, the project was being developed for Gore Verbinski to direct with Steve Carell was going to play the lead. Steve Conrad, who has previously written The Weather Man, The Pursuit Of Happyness and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, had scribed what's been described as a paranoid thriller. In fact, production had already been pencilled in for March. But the recent hacking of Sony and the consequent threats to any screening of The Interview has led New Regency to decide that there wasn’t any point in making the movie. According to Deadline, insiders from the studio explained to the website, "it just makes no sense to move forward." This all apparently began internally, with the folks at Fox saying that they wouldn't be distributing the film. Thus, the plug was pulled.
It's worth noting that Gore Verbinski, who is best known as the director of three Pirates of the Caribbean films as well as The Lone Ranger, has two other films in development with New Regency. The filmmaker is also working on the horror movie A Cure For Wellness, which comes from Revolutionary Road’s writer, Justin Haythe, and has also been working on the sci-fi film Passengers. Meanwhile, Steven Conrad’s dismay at the cancellation of his untitled North Korea thriller will be softened by the fact that he is also working on another project with the studio, specifically a large-scale action comedy.
Before the cancellation of the North Korea-set film, the company had intended to shoot and release all three of these films one after another. However these plans have been forced to come to a screeching halt because of the threats over The Interview. What Steve Carell does next is anyone’s guess, but the fact that he is just coming off his most critically acclaimed performance to date in Foxcatcher means that he will probably be just fine.
The hacking of Sony has quickly turned into an outright disaster, and not just for Sony. For the uninitiated, this all began back on November 24th when Sony Pictures Entertainment’s headquarters was hacked. A cyber terrorist group known as Guardians of the Peace had orchestrated this invasion, and they instructed Sony that this was "just the beginning." Over the following days, Sony learned exactly what this meant. Leaked emails and private conversations between Sony’s executives and its studio head were obtained and then strewn across the internet. Reports then started to emerge saying that Sony believed North Korea was responsible for the hack in response to the impending release of The Interview - which revolves around the plot to kill North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un. North Korea insisted that they weren’t responsible, but that was followed by direct instructions from Guardians of Peace not to release The Interview. On December 16th they threatened to attack theaters that intended to show The Interview, making a direct reference to 9/11 in their message. When major theater chains began to cancel plans to show the film, Sony Pictures decided to cancel the release of The Interview altogether. Meanwhile, it’s now been heavily rumored that the U.S. government will confirm North Korea’s involvement in the attack over the next few days.
Should Sony Pictures have cancelled the release of The Interview? Most definitely. There is no point in even risking the lives of moviegoers. But it’s a sad state of affairs that it has actually come to this. Studios are now going to think twice about creating any movie that could lead to them being targeted. Now big, serious questions need to be asked. Why was Sony able to be hacked so easily? Where does cinema go from here? At the moment it feels like the movie industry is about to cave in on itself. Who would have thought that it would be all be because of a Seth Rogen movie?