The Interview Mess

So Sony has decided to pull the plug on The Interview after the major theater chains decided against showing the film.

This is a fascinating story on so many levels. It is not clear Β to me who was behind the hacking attack on Sony, but there are some obvious candidates. We are witnessing cyber warfare in real time. And there are real costs involved. Who knows how much Sony has lost or will lose as a result of the hacking incident and all the repercussions. But we do know that The Interview cost $42mm to make and there were “tens of millions” of marketing and distribution costs already spent as well. All of that comes from the article I linked to at the start of this post.

How will this impact the entertainment business going forward? Will they now harden all of their systems? Yes. Will the cybersecurity industry get a boost from this incident? Yes. Will it change how they think about making films and other entertainment? I would have to imagine the answer to that question is yes.

And what of the film itself? Should we allow censorship of this form to exist in our society? Should the film get released in some form?

I think the Internet, which was the source of so much harm to Sony, should also provide the answer to what happens to this film. If I were Sony, I would put the film out on BiTorrent, and any other Internet services that want it. Give it to Netflix if they want it. Give it to iTunes if they want it. Give it to HBO if they want it. Give it to Showtime if they want it. Essentially give the film to the world and let the world, via the Internet, decide what they want to do with it.

Of course this is about money to Sony. $42mm is a lot of money to write off. And it is a lot more than that given all the extra costs. But keeping the film locked away in a vault is also a cost. Both to Sony and to society. It says that the attack worked. I think the best thing Sony can do at this point is give the world the film and let us all decide what we think about it. We should not let cyberterrorist censorship have its way.


Comments (Archived):

    1. fredwilson

      ooh. i love the idea of asking for a charitable donation when someone watches the film. go Mitt!

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Tanned, rested, and ready for 2016.

        1. JamesHRH

          IT would be nice if the Reps could find, somewhere in the wilds of the party, a candidate that was not riding Pops coattails.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Mitt’s accomplishments are his own. But if having a non-rich dad is your thing, the GOP has other pols who may be more to you’re liking. Marco Rubio talks often about how his father was a bartender; Ted Cruz’s was a preacher, etc.

          2. JamesHRH

            Dave, I was kidding, but the Reps have run ‘higher office is a family business’ candidates for the last 3 elections. Keeping that streak alive is not a goal they should strive to achieve.I’ll skip a specific response to Cruz & Rubio, who are unelectable.

          3. Dave Pinsen

            I’m no fan of McCain, but his father never held elective office.

          4. JamesHRH

            That’s right. I gassed that fact. It must be caused by my attempt to erase all exposure to Palin from my memory, so he would get caught up in the wipe down….. :-0

          5. pointsnfigures

            Dad was an admiral. Grandfather was an admiral too. If you want to read a great book about Bull Halsey and McCain getting faked out and almost losing the war in the Pacific, read The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors. Every startup CEO should read it.

          6. pointsnfigures

            Scott Walker….dad was a minister. Would be nice if we didn’t turn politics into the family business. Bush, Clinton, Kennedy, Daley, Simon, Madigan, et al

        2. David Fishman

          Yup. Hanging in La Jolla with his toes in the sand!

        3. Chris Voss

          Are his jesus jammies ready too? lol

      2. Guest

        But then Kickstarter gets involved. Maybe the answer is Bit Torrent for distribution and Bitcoin for payment πŸ™‚

      3. Sashi

        Nobody seems to get it. NOT releasing the film is Sony’s effort to shift focus from the horrid racist and disturbing emails onto something else.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          I think there is a LOT of truth to that. The fallout from the content was an unacceptable story that promised to run and run.

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          This ^^^^^

        3. Lancewlars

          Thank you Sashi. This is what I have been thinking throughout this whole episode. The issue is that cyber-terrorists have so much leverage because we (as a society) refuse to learn our lesson about the nature of electronic communication. (I’m not condoning the content of the blackmail emails, I would just think that people would be smart enough not to create a somewhat permanent record of their true colors.) This is one of the hallmark issues of our time. On one hand, we want our communications to be our own. But on the other hand, we want to use the internet to “open source the world”. Building sufficiently strong walls between the two is the billion dollar riddle that could disrupt healthcare, and it disrupting healthcare.

    2. matthughes

      There’s still a huge win in this for Sony if they play it smart.

      1. Blake

        Historically, that is not their game, at least for the Big Media part of Sony…

  1. BrainOverBullet

    Sony, made smart choice. It was about ” Common Sense”.

  2. Richard

    One thing left out of most discussions is that sony is a Japanese multinational conglomerate. Has anyone heard a response from japan?

    1. JimHirshfield

      η§γ―δ½•γ‚‚θžγ„γ¦γ„γͺいWatashi wa nani mo kiite inai

      1. jason wright

        totemo ii desu

      2. Richard

        Ok, I’ll blink, what does this translate too?

        1. JimHirshfield

          I have not heard anything

  3. LIAD

    sad truth is terrorism works.getting a movie shelved is the least of our problems. this sets a major global precedent.expect way more important and much dirtier examples to follow as a result

    1. William Mougayar

      I agree. This irks me a lot. The world is full of bad actors.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Rogan? He’s actually a pretty good actor. And funny too.

      2. awaldstein

        Bad actors is not the point here William.Rogan is a really smart character btw and a decent actor who has done some smaller really good flics

        1. JimHirshfield

          Me thinks you got tricked by my humorous highjacking of Wm’s point.

          1. awaldstein

            I wonder if being duped and being a dope are connected;)

          2. JimHirshfield

            Definitively not. I’m super duper sure.

        2. Chimpwithcans

          Rogan himself would probably enjoy this little joke πŸ™‚

          1. JimHirshfield

            Especially how none of us, myself included, are spelling his name correctly! Hahahahah

          2. Chimpwithcans


        3. William Mougayar

          I meant bad reviews mostly. It’s still entertainment.

          1. awaldstein

            Ahh, your wry north of the border humor.Your comment makes me realize that of all the various brands and models I’ve built, entertainment and socialization where the most fun, the most powerful, the most loved and the most lucrative.And of course a complete crapshoot as to whether they would make it.

    2. LE

      expect way more important and much dirtier examples to follow as a resultWill be a bell curve. At the other end of the curve once it becomes commonplace it won’t matter as much and people will tune it out. Then the game will change.

  4. Richard

    I don’t think $ is the long term issue. If there isn’t an insurance/derivatives market for this, I would think one is being developed.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Is it possible Sony thought the movie would bomb and it could recoup more money via insurance by scuttling it?

      1. Richard

        Was it insured?

        1. Dave Pinsen

          I don’t know.

        2. Pete Griffiths

          I would very much doubt they have insurance that covers this. The most common insurance which all movies have, including studio movies, is production insurance. The studio presents a budget and any overruns due to specified problems (eg death of an actor) are covered by the insurer. But in this case the movie was made. There is of course market risk and studies self insure for that. So I doubt there was a policy that covers this eventuality.

      2. Sheamus

        It’s very possible – early reviews have been mostly negative. This and the relatively low cost/expectations of the film are both definitely a factor in the decision to pull.

        1. William Mougayar

          Well, bad reviews have never stopped Hollywood from releasing bad movies before.

          1. Sheamus

            Agreed, but if this had been Guardians of the Galaxy, say, it would definitely still be hitting cinemas.

      3. JimHirshfield

        Every bonehead and his brother goes to the movies 3 times during the holidays…watching whatever boneheaded movie is in the theater. This movie would have recouped its budget and then some.

        1. kidmercury

          agree — in fact i was one of the boneheads who had plans to see this on xmas!

          1. pointsnfigures

            Except you’d have turned it into a real conspiracy theory starring Dennis Rodman. : )

      4. Pete Griffiths


    2. pointsnfigures

      I think they reinsure every movie in some way. But, it won’t be enough to cover this and who knows what the terms were.

  5. William Mougayar

    I don’t like this either, as it sets a dangerous precedent. They traced the cyber attacks/threats to the North Korean government, so this means we’re going by their blackmail and their censorship standards?It’s a freggin movie. And we are a free society, not one that obeys another country’s retarted government.

    1. pointsnfigures

      They aren’t a free society. Remember, Kim Jong hits a hole in one every time he plays golf.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Gretsky: “You make 100% of the shots you don’t take, KJ”

  6. Jan Schultink

    Most likely scenario is that Sony was blackmailed by the new owners of a highly confidential piece of information that was stolen that is worth more then $42m and has not made it in the newspaper (yet).

  7. jason wright

    is this really terrorism? I’m not feeling it.the mass media news feed terrorises the democratic masses every single day on behalf of governments, the public relations industry, lobbyists, et.c. et.c. et.c.i thought you were a heretic. can’t you see that?

    1. Dave Pinsen

      What would ever make you think that Fred Wilson was a heretic?

      1. jason wright

        the Martin Luther haircut

    2. JimHirshfield

      “is this really terrorism? I’m not feeling it.”You, personally, may not have been injured – as I’d guess was the case with any previous act of terrorism. But you would have felt this if you worked at Sony or worked on this movie or if your emails were exposed. And, you can surely imagine how terrible it would be if your business and personal life were publicly exposed and undermined.

      1. jason wright

        Mass (media) hysteria

        1. JimHirshfield

          Yes. That’s part of the intentional collateral damage.

          1. jason wright

            media speak

  8. Brad Lindenberg

    They should give it away and set up a kick starter project called “The Interview” – $12 a ticket if you watched and downloaded the movie, based on an honesty system.I’d pay just to prove a point against these terrorists.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s another idea i was thinking about. something along these lines would be good.

      1. Brad Lindenberg

        But then Kickstarter gets involved. Maybe the answer is Bit Torrent for distribution and Bitcoin for payment :).

      2. David

        Why not just go the Radiohead or NIN route and release it with a ‘name your price’ model?

    2. LE

      I’d pay just to prove a point against these terrorists.If that makes you feel good then go with it. But giving any reaction to a bully in any way simply gives him more reason to be a bully.

    1. Andrew Kennedy

      At this point…It no longer matters. I’ll bet 60% of the global population knows about it and wants to see what the fuss is about.

      1. Anne Libby


    1. Andrew Kennedy

      Pat yourself on the back

      1. JimHirshfield

        Oh, I did. Happy dance as well. Not.

    2. kidmercury

      hirshfield 1, world 0

  9. JimHirshfield

    Remember the original Manchurian Candidate movie? It was shelved for many years because, I believe, the subject matter was too sensitive given the Cold War.

    1. laurie kalmanson


    2. pointsnfigures

      They ran him in 08 (rimshot please)

      1. JimHirshfield

        πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€

    3. Steve_Dodd

      One notable exception was that ALL characters in that movie were fictional. In the Interview, it’s an explicit discussion about the assassination of a current, named leader of a challenging nation.

      1. JimHirshfield

        100% true. It’s relevant today because it’s a case of a movie being shelved for “real world events” reasons…that’s all.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          I had two movies frozen after 9/11. It happens all the time.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Hmm…I hadn’t thought about it. Did your movies eventually get released?

          2. Pete Griffiths

            One did, it had already been made – the other didn’t. The second was green lit but frozen and momentum was lost.

          3. JimHirshfield

            Bummer. I hope other projects thereafter moved forward. Hate to see something like this screw up careers.

          4. Pete Griffiths

            You don’t have a ‘career’ in movies. You have a series of events. There is no discernible rational pattern to them.

          5. JimHirshfield

            That’s depressing :-/

        2. Steve_Dodd

          Agreed, thanks!

  10. JamesHRH

    I think people underestimate the role of the US legal system in this story.A known threat puts exhibitors in an impossible legal position – their legal advice would be that the exhibitors should have customers sign a waiver before coming to the movie.This idea eliminates that and Sony should do it.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Good point, and I hadn’t thought of that.So now I will never go to a movie theater again. Thanks N. Korea.

    2. Dave Pinsen

      This idea eliminates that and Sony should do it.Are you kidding? A movie so dangerous you have to sign a waiver to watch it – that’s the world’s easiest promotional campaign!

    3. William Mougayar

      Yup, it was the theatres that capitulated before Sony did. They asked Sony to stop it.But regardless, the terrorists won by instilling fear.

    4. LaMarEstaba

      Yup. I saw Marc Andreessen RT this tweet…The theater was considered able to reasonably foresee that a madman would come into that Aurora theater and massacre people.No theater wants to deal with the fallout of The Interview. I believe that Sony should release via the web, but they are running scared now. There may not be any immediate moves.

      1. JamesHRH

        That judgement brings the administration of justice into disrepute. Ridiculous.

        1. Matt Zagaja

          I think that people do not understand what happened. Cinemark filed a Motion for Summary Judgement. This is governed by Rule 56 of the Rules of Federal Procedure:”A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense β€” or the part of each claim or defense β€” on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court should state on the record the reasons for granting or denying the motion.”The judges ruling basically kicks the finding of fact as to whether the attack was forseeable down to the jury. Other articles indicate the fact record has a history of robberies, gang violence, etc. occurring at the same site.I’m sure many are completely shocked the media would take something out of context and then twitter would take it more out of context πŸ˜‰

          1. JamesHRH

            Great exposition, but still a ridiculous buck passing ruling.

          2. Pete Griffiths

            If it was with regard to summary judgement then Matt is of course correct. It’s not buck passing. It’s the law. A judge can only rule on the law in such proceedings. If there is any dispute on fact then he/she MUST pass it to the jury. It’s not buck passing, it’s the system.

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen

            “I’m sure many are completely shocked the media would take something out of context and then twitter would take it more out of context ;)”Truthiness ftw.

      2. Aaron Fyke

        WHAT!? By that logic, not Aurora, but ALL movie theaters should have been permanently closed. And what’s the common thread? A collection of people for entertainment purposes? So close all sports venues and concerts as well! Shameful ruling. The killer shot those people, not the theater.

        1. Matt Zagaja

          If you dig a little further the fact record for that movie theater is a bit different from many others including a history of robberies and gang violence outside it. It would not impact theaters in quiet suburbia.

      3. LE

        I think that’s a bit of chicken little running around.See what happens with that case when it goes on appeal.

      4. Blake

        “Lisa, I’d like to buy your rock”

    5. gorbachev

      That threat wasn’t credible in any way.The theatres caving in is like shutting down the entire New York City subway system if a schoolkid in Johannesburg says he’s gonna blow up all the subway stations next week.

  11. Barry Nolan

    When the Dark Knight Massacre happened, nobody yanked the movie. Going to the movie felt like a collective defiance to evil. So far, this has the makings of a HBR case study in how not to respond. Fold – you won. Leave us be. Move jong un must be pissing himself laughing. Credit Imgur

  12. Russell

    I’m about half way through Joseph Anton – Salamon Rushdie’s book about his experience after having his book banned from India and a fatwa issued against him. Keeping the movie in the vault would only encourage similar actions in the future.

  13. andyswan

    I think everyone here is missing the point.Sony is not purely scared of what will happen if people see the movie in theaters. They fear what will happen, TO THEM, if they release the movie at all.North Korea doesn’t want people watching this movie. They have made very clear to Sony that they don’t want it released at all. They have also made very clear all of the ways that they can hurt Sony (mainly electronically) if the movie is released.Theater distribution might be one threat, but it’s not the only threat. Acting like it is doesn’t help anyone.

    1. JimHirshfield

      NYT is reporting it’s been tied to N.Korea.Which N.Korean movie are you suggesting the CIA take down?

      1. Chimpwithcans

        ha ha! For all we know, they’re taking down Korean movies all the time, no? πŸ™‚

    2. Dave Pinsen

      Edit: meant to type this in reply to Jim Hirshfield, but apparently I can’t cut & paste from the edit.The NYT has been wrong before (most recently, on the UVA gang rape hoax). An argument for why it most likely wasn’t North Korea:

      1. andyswan

        OK… but in any event I don’t think Sony is pulling the film purely because of what would happen in theaters.

        1. William Mougayar

          i thought they had pressure from the theater chains?

        2. Dave Pinsen


        3. bsoist


        4. Andrew Kennedy

          100% –> it’s blackmail

      2. JimHirshfield

        Got it. Interesting read and some good points.

    3. kidmercury

      i agree with your point, and would cite that i have not been able to find this movie on torrent sites. normally finding a movie on a torrent site is a fairly trivial endeavor (although for any potential copyright apps searching criminals, please note i do pay for movies except when i do not have that option). also, didn’t the south park movie, team america make fun of north korea?i feel like there is something more to this story. i know north korea is crazy but this reaction seems a bit much. i feel like there have to be other participants. i’ve seen others speculate about disgruntled employees.

      1. jason wright

        the north korea angle is almost certainly a cover story. ‘rogue’ is being pinned on the wrong suspect here.

        1. kidmercury

          also relevant is the cancellation of the previously forthcoming steve carell movie….. which was not a sony pictures production:

    4. fredwilson

      that’s my point Andy. should society allow cyberterrorism to work?

      1. andyswan

        If by “society” you mean “those guys at Sony with the most to lose”… I’d say that’s their decision.If the US Gov’t wants to deal with it and backstop their potential losses and protect their families …then we can start talking retaliation.

        1. fredwilson

          I mean all of us. Society

          1. andyswan

            Then “we” need to offer something better than the cyber terrorists if we want the actual individuals involved to do what we want them to do.

          2. LE

            Most of society probably doesn’t actually care about this that much. They will watch another movie. They might talk as if they care but in the end they won’t be losing any sleep over this issue.Right now it’s fresh and hot as an issue. And if for some reason it starts to happen on a regular basis it will just be a part of everyday life that people will tune out.You know on Nightly News (with Brian Williams) they don’t talk about Ebola and haven’t in some time now. Maybe here and there a story. At one point you would think the world is coming to an end the way that was playing out.

      2. LE

        Hmm interesting all the sudden water boarding and torture doesn’t seem so bad when confronted with a greater evil.

        1. Dale Allyn

          Apparently, it wasn’t that bad to KSM either, as supposedly he taunted the “facilitators” and counted down to 20 seconds on his fingers, showing that he knew the ordered limit of duration. It turns out sleep deprivation is what ultimately broke him. I know sleep deprivation breaks me regularly, too. ;)The postured opposition to water boarding (surrounding the current, biased senate “report”) is gross political hypocrisy.… oh, IMHO, of course. πŸ˜‰

        2. CJ

          Now slow down…I don’t think anyone went quite that far. Hell, Sony isn’t even an American company. Torture is still a much bigger issue in my book.

      3. Pete Griffiths

        Should we really be using the terms ‘cyberwar’ and ‘cyberterror’ in this context??

        1. Blake

          too late; the lamestream media hath spoken, & the sheeple listeneth…

          1. Pete Griffiths

            Very true.My concern is that this isn’t a ‘war’ and it isn’t really ‘terror.’ What it is – is crime. So what’s wrong with ‘cybercrime’ and ‘cybercriminals?’Using these terms is just another example of fear mongering. And we have seen some extremely costly consequences of irresponsible ratcheting up of popular fears.

          2. Blake

            Good point. At the end of the day it’s basically extortion, blackmail, racketeering, etc. Indeed more “cybercrime” that “cyberterrorism” (How would cyberterrorism be defined then? Maybe someone threatening to blow up a datacenter, or perhaps a bunch of cats?)A few of our clients deal with this kind of crap a couple times a month. We have good enough DDoS protection in place in our network & those of our our transit providers that our stock response is “bring it, assholes”.It turns out that ordering huge DDoSs from Russian botnet masters isn’t cheap (& apparently they like to be paid promptly, whod’a thunk), so once they try a few stock attacks & see that their target is back up after a few minutes of detection/mitigation time, they give up & go pick on someone else after a couple hours.

          3. Pete Griffiths

            Makes sense. Sophisticated criminals are pretty rational actors.

          4. Blake

            Yep, avoiding being a victim of crime is all about making yourself a less attractive target…

    5. Blake

      When was the last time not showing some balls in the face of an adversary got anyone anywhere?Worst case scenario, they call the Feds just like any other cybercrime event. It’s not like we have any diplomatic cred with DPRK or anything; to the contrary I think the Feds would be happy to flex some muscle & show off the results of spending more than the DPRK’s GNP on cybersecurity this year…Unfortunately, Sony media doesn’t exactly have a great track record in the “doing the right thing” department.

      1. Pete Griffiths


        1. Blake

          That’s about right.But Jesus kicked some ass when he needed too as well.

          1. Pete Griffiths

            I think your case might be stronger if you pointed out how he ended up.

          2. Blake

            Class exercise for otherwise unoccupied folks following this thread:Compare & contrast:Jesus trying to make the case for compassion & reform of Judaeism in Roman Israel & ending up nailed to a crossvs.A non-corrupt inspired & intelligent freshly-elected politician trying to get anything useful done in the 114th US CongressHint: In certain circles, the existence of either is a controversial matter subject to debate

  14. JimHirshfield

    In related cyber warfare news, ICANN hacked…

    1. JimHirshfield

      …while Sony is trying to achieve SOPA-style DNS blocking…

  15. BillMcNeely

    It’s interesting to note with Cuba and North Korea lots of talent to unleash.America should not be so blinded by its greatness that we can’t see emerging players

  16. bsoist

    But keeping the film locked away in a vault is also a cost. Both to Sony and to society.The cost to society is another externality which Sony almost certainly does not track on its books.

  17. Anthony Serina

    Sony needs to stand tall right now and make a move. They can’t just sit back. Hopefully whatever they decide involves releasing the content through some channel

    1. pointsnfigures

      Somebody should “steal” it, and put it on the internet.

      1. Anthony Serina

        While impossible to ever know, I hope when Sony does release the film they make more money on it had they gone with the previous distribution plan

  18. Mike

    If you were an executive at Netflix or Vudu or Apple or Amazon Video, or HBO or a cable operator, would you show the movie for fear that your infrastructure might be next. Interesting Risk/reward analysis that we will be able to see play out in real time. What would the dialogue be in this country if NK had produced a comedy about the assassination of our president? Would we be outraged or cheer their freedom of speech?

    1. Kedar Kelkar

      That is a very interesting point. Freedom of speech is essential, but some acts can outrage people. Unfortunately, the people outraged in this case are too aggressive and intolerant.

    2. fredwilson

      that’s why you want this everywhere, not in just one distribution channel

      1. LE

        that’s why you want this everywhere, not in just one distribution channelHaving it everywhere doesn’t mean that one of those “everywhere’s” wouldn’t become a target and/or the executives.Seeing this play out. That’s what terrorism is all about.For example let’s say you are given the opportunity to invest in a politically sensitive startup. And there is a potential threat to your and/or your family as a result of your involvement in the investment. Would it really matter if you had 3 other firms in the round? No if you were rational you would evaluate the risk to your family and say “maybe I’ll pass on this one”. The hell with being a standup guy. My family and my personal safety comes first.That’s the point of terrorism. Not that you think they will definitely attack the movie theater that you are at but they might attack, however small chance, the movie theater that you are at.You know the saying “wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole”. And “better to be safe than sorry”.Lastly let me say that the terrorists of today are not like the mafia of yesterday with their sort of code of ethics and all of that. Today, if they can dream it they will do it. There are no boundaries. No sacred cows.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          All terrorists, from the first time that the theory of terror was articulated (in Russia) have had ‘no boundaries.’ That was always the point.

    3. Tracey Jackson

      We would likely ignore it.It would possibly be a cult classic for those opposed to our regime. But we are not a closed down, xenophobic country whose people have no human rights whatsoever. It’s not about our freedom of speech. It’s about very poor executive decisions while dealing with a country and a leader who we know has no sense of humor whatsoever. It’s Amy Pascal being shortsighted and smug, which her nasty emails about our president prove. I think she’s trying to save her ass and her face and her job all at the same time. And I don’t think she will pull it off.

    4. SubstrateUndertow

      There have been numerous movies about political assassinations that are not comedies.The key feature in this movie however is the comedic buffoonery that is Kim Jong-un. The movie’s assassination plot is just a comedic vehicle and that fact is portrayed as the extremely obvious context to the movie’s audience ?Kim Jong-un’s real objection to this movie is not that the evil doers of America would try to assassinate “the dear leader”, that he could tolerate and wear as a deluded badge of honour, no, his problem with this movie is that it portrays him to the Korean people as the clownish buffoon he actually is.

      1. Pete Griffiths

        IF the koreans are involved you may well be right.

  19. Tom Labus

    Have a screening at the White House!

  20. awaldstein

    This grates.@andyswan:disqus is correct on this.The theatres don’t drive the studios, the studios are in control, make the money, carry the losses, have the most to risk.Don’t have a good answer. To @fredwilson:disqus suggestion I like the idea but whomever these creeps are are targeting the content not the channel to my mind.I don’t have a good answer.

  21. Peter Crysdale

    One short-term consequence: New Regency has scrapped a movie project set in North Korea, which was supposed to begin filming in March.

  22. OurielOhayon

    “If I were Sony, I would put the film out on BiTorrent” – > precisely what i tweeted 12h ago Fred πŸ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      you are way ahead of me my friend!

  23. Robert Heiblim

    Yes, the threat itself can be defused by using the power of the internet. An online release would put Sony in a good position supporting free speech and undermining the terrorists on this. I think it could also pay back in its marketing and social benefit and if the film is actually good then they could make money down the food chain with all the typical fees turning, as you put lemons into lemonade. What should not happen is capitulation. While theater owners in an age of already some movie theater terror are understandably cautious and also likely not covered by insurance, the chilling effect here can be enormous. These kinds of threats are easy enough to make with or without basis. Without resistance we will only see them increase

  24. Steve_Dodd

    Well, I should probably say this anonymously but I’d like to suggest an alternative position. I see this as a case where the real effects of social media can be clearly measured. I’m not even going to touch the topic of this being right or wrong just a factual statement that says internet users can assume the power should they choose for whatever purpose moves them. And more importantly, they are clearly learning they have it and how to use it.

    1. pointsnfigures

      what action would you have someone take? Tweeting at the regime in NK isn’t going to do anything.

      1. Steve_Dodd

        Retaliation was not my point. The key message is that we have enabled internet users with immense power. They are learning how to use it. Your comment proves just how powerful they are becoming. When something like this happens “retaliation” is impossible.

  25. pointsnfigures

    I agree. If it was available to me I’d pay money on Netflix to watch it just to spite the North Koreans.

  26. Glenn Horowitz

    Please—free speech? We threaten North Korea, a despotic, xenophobic nation literallyand figuratively frozen in space and time, with war if they don’t heel and disarm. Thenan American film company, the embodiment of craven commercialism, owned by a publiclytraded Japanese company spends 50-60 million dollars making not only a film about themurder of that nation’s leader but an adolescent screwballs comedy starring actorsbest known for flatulence on screen and this becomes a black and white issue aboutfree speech in the age of meta technology. We’re lucky the North Koreans don’t havearmed drone capacity. Surely much of the responsibility for this mess iies with the folksrunning Sony in LA. Weren’t they, by the way, the same folks making bathroom qualityjokes about our supreme black leader?

    1. LE

      not only a film about themurder of that nation’s leader A comedy film.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      You are suggestion a false equivalence betweenKim Jong-un and the word “leader” ?Kim Jong-un has worked hard to earn his stripes as a tragically comedic political impostor. Killing his uncle only further cements his legitimate candidacy as a worthy leading-man in such a comedic movie parody role.He is a living political-parody spectacle, tragically embossed upon his fellow North Korea citizens. Spectacle, by the way, that he continually endeavours to play out on the world stage with as much public media attention as he can muster.Comedic push back is the least he deserves !

    3. Pete Griffiths

      Stop being objective. It doesn’t sit well with our moral superiority and all around exceptionalism.

  27. leigh

    It’s amazing to me vanity has brought us to. I can’t even believe that we are discussing a Seth Rogin film in terms of fighting for our collective rights. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree with the post in the least, and I recognize the important of not letting cyberterrorism work, but over a likely bad Seth Rogin film? Officially depressed. And depressed that so few people even know what happened to Estonia.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Estonia – Electronic citizenry? Arrested journalists? Russian spies? To what do you specifically refer?

      1. leigh

        i meant when they had a cyber terrorist attack a few years ago.

        1. ShanaC


    2. Anne Libby

      Seriously. And, BTW, have you seen *Wild*? Anyone who wants to make a political statement by seeing a Hollywood movie can do so by seeing the one that blows the Bechdel Test out of the water.

      1. leigh

        no but i’ll put it on my holiday list …..

  28. iggyfanlo

    Yes, release it… SONY has rarely gotten this much PR for any film… and do it like “Louis CK”… offer it for download/streaming on the web for $9.. I bet they get tens of millions of downloads/streams… and then use some of that money for personal security at SONY

    1. awaldstein

      This implies that the gist is the theaters which it isn’t.I’m with you, download the sucker but that in no way obviates the risk that Sony is being blackmailed for.

  29. Paulcwhite

    This seems like one stupid thing getting multiplied over and over again. The first stupid move was a major studio agreeing to do a movie like this. A movie about killing the leader of any country, company, etc is not only in bad taste but is just plain stupid. Impossible for people that are impacted to not get angry. Imagine if a major studio of another country made a movie about killing our country’s or companies leaders…Then the response – whereever it came from is equally ridiculous. Or is it something else? Some group that is now blackmailing other big companies under the guise of an NK retailiation.It is scary that systems are this vulnerable. It is scary that it can then be linked to the threat of physical attacks. It is scary that we all need to be scared that it could really happen. On top of it all fear is a powerful motivator and lots of companies will brlenefit from the sales that will occur as we all try to protect ourselves from this. Ugh!

    1. LE

      is not only in bad tasteSo ok. Now we are not going to create any art, music, films, entertainment that is in “bad taste”? As if “bad taste” can even be defined?

  30. fredericguarino

    one of the most overlooked angles here is the following: Sony is not a US company, it is very much a Japanese company and Japan has a tense-filled relationship with the 2 Koreas. A prime source of revenue for North Korea has been illegal gambling operated in Japan by North Korean expatriates –…. Also not reported everywhere – Sony’s CEO gave his notes given the sensitive nature of the film – not sure this is done on every film –…Hollywood is already kowtowing to Chinese sensibilities and effectively already self-censoring or more – see http://www.hollywoodreporte….

  31. Semil Shah

    Maybe I’m missing something, but to me Sony’s decision makes complete sense from their POV. It’s an iconic Japanese company, and they have a past with China, which many believe helps support North Korea (which many believe are behind this). A few assumptions in here, yes, but if true, I can see why Sony wouldn’t want to poke their neighbors further. [All this said, I do agree releasing or leaking the film on Torrent would be awesome.]

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      Yes !Sony should announce that they have unfortunately been hacked once again and the movie “The Interview” has been stolen, probably by the same malicious hacker as the last time :-0

      1. LE

        No way they could say that “they have unfortunately been hacked once again” as an excuse and as cover to release the film. Opens up a world of legal problems. Also it would be a conspiracy that could easily be uncovered. That’s just to start.

    2. ShanaC

      they need to work their relationship with China again, especially because their new PM is the grandson of the guy who set up the Japanese colony in China.

    3. BuDom

      If Sony is trying to play the PC card in all this then they should have never green lighted the movie in the first place. So the hackers win. It doesn’t matter who sent it because the words used implying a terrorist act. This only shows all terrorists that as a nation we are not as cohesive as we would like them to believe. It’s a sad sad world when a dictator can rule what people can watch.

  32. ErikSchwartz

    It was irresponsible to make this movie in the way they did.You want to make a movie about the assassination of a sitting foreign leader at least have the good taste to put some level of abstraction in place and make it a fictional foreign leader. What would the US response be if the Russian movie industry made a movie depicting the assassination of the actual sitting US President?None of that excuses terrorist threats. We have the right to make stupid irresponsible movies. But someone should have had the good sense (and taste) to kill this movie in development.PS BitTorrent has two “T”s (3 total)

    1. LE

      It was irresponsible to make this movie in the way they did. In what sense? That industries objective is to make a film that makes money. And they are free to do so as long as no laws are broken.Separately SNL frequently parodies foreign leaders as do many others.Besides it was a comedy film. What would the US response be if the Russian movie industry made a movie depicting the assassination of the actual sitting US President? I don’t think it would get much response here actually.

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        Over at Fox news that response would depend on which president was the target :-(Sorry couldn’t resist.

      2. ErikSchwartz

        When one teases a rabid dog one should not be surprised when the rabid dog tries to bite. So while you have the right to tease a rabid dog, doing so is a stupid act.

        1. LE

          You are saying that they should have known that making this movie would create the reaction that it did. Movies in the past (Captain America) did a similar thing (with the father) and didn’t have this type of reaction (or at least I didn’t hear that they did … maybe I’m wrong.)Also, if someone wants to be “on the safe side” then there are many things they wouldn’t do because of risk. You sailed across the ocean in a sailboat (alone?) and that was extremely risky to you (and to your family I would argue). In hindsight if something happened it could be said that “it was irresponsible to sail across the ocean alone”. But it worked out for you. (Not a risk that I would even come close to taking by the way).Make sense? At what point do you stop taking risks?Of course going forward I agree given what we now know that it would be irresponsible to make this movie.Along the lines of “rabid dog” that is the basis for many of my comments here with people suggesting taunting them even more. Clearly not what should be done. We are not back in the days of “European ground wars” anymore.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      I’m not ready to jump to this conclusion, personally.I have not seen this movie or any excerpts or trailers. But there have been plenty of movies about trying to kill leaders that Clint Eastwood/Rene Russo/John Malkovich one many years ago, “Day of the Jackal”, etc.), including our own. It may or may not be in bad taste. But we can’t know if he haven’t seen it.For all we know, it’s critical commentary on CIA assassination programs (which we know do exist). This movie could be a finger pointing back at ourselves. In fact, that would be my guess about the movie’s tone, if I was to engage in that exercise.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        Difference with those is they were about assassinating a non specific and theoretical president of the united states, not the specific living individual who is currently president of the united states. Or in the case of the original day of the jackal a fictional retelling around an actual historical event.

        1. LE

          This is entertainment and in particular comedy, parody and all of that. Just like Captain America was (regarding junior’s father). By the way in that same movie they showed defecation as part of a sex scene.And in Tom Green’s “Freddy Got Fingered” they showed what could be considered by some bestiality. (Clip attached.) [1]I’m going to guess that in the past there have been political cartoons depicting a sitting president getting assassinated. So where is the line going to be drawn?And would we really care if somewhere in France [2] someone made a movie about killing our President? I don’t think that would get much attention at all.[1]…[2] Where, as Steve Martin used to say “has a different word for everything”

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          True enough. In hindsight, I didn’t need that part in my analysis πŸ˜‰ The second paragraph is the keeper.

    3. ShanaC

      we would be angry, and not hack their movie studios. We would just spy. Which is what we did in the cold war.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        The Sony hack was child’s play compared to the penetration of foreign governments and companies systems the US does on a daily basis. We leak damaging things we illegally obtained every day.Snowden proved that.

        1. ShanaC

          or snowden showed that we don’t leak, we keep in vaults until someone leaks because what we do isn’t right.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            You think the US would hesitate for a moment to leak embarrassing information about people/governments we do not like in order to manipulate their politics or markets even if we obtained that information via illegal means?The pathetic thing about the Sony hack is that the NSA already had all of these emails.

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Or the CIA would recruit a couple of journalists to get an interview with Putin and then assassinate him… waitThis whole thing reminds me of “Dr Strangelove.” The Koreans are crapping their pants over a movie that, from what I can tell, makes fun of the CIA. (OK and maybe their leader, too.)

      3. Pete Griffiths

        ‘…what we did in the cold war’ ??I suspect we’re still at it, don’t you?

  33. Mark Gannon

    I realize this is a little off topic and they haven’t said how they got hacked, but increasingly organizations are getting hacked by email (spearfishing). This is easy because the organizations use email clients that automatically render html. It is trivial to send an email that looks like a linkedin invite, but the links run through the attackers server. Given the ubiquity of this problem, I don’t understand why organizations use these sort of email clients. I use the Linux based Kmail program, and by default it doesn’t render html and warns that it might be a problem. It seems like a trivial change.

    1. ShanaC

      The reason this started to happen is that most people stopped using email clients and that most people stopped having discrete work hours (kept working at home)Interesting, enforcing labor laws about 40 hour workweeks and reclassifying many workers may help, as well as trying to figure out how to make webmail which pre-renders images (gmail for business) more secure may be the answer

  34. Salt Shaker

    Cyber security firms are the big winners here (along, of course, with Kim’s exploding head). What impact will this have on future creative decisions and behavior of global entertainment companies moving forward? Free speech in the U.S. may be alive and well, but N. Korea’s action, and subsequent capitulation by Sony, demonstrates a whole new set of unintended consequences, particularly for global media orgs in film, music, publishing.Let’s send Ambassador Rodman back to N. Korea for a little more (irrational) third-world diplomacy.

    1. LE

      Let’s send Ambassador Rodman As unlikely as it may seem we don’t know that Rodman wasn’t in some way working on behalf of the governments agenda. In other words he could have been working for “the company”.

      1. Salt Shaker

        LE, I think you just hit on the sequel to “The Interview”.

        1. LE

          The reason that it is possible is that it’s far fetched. [1] Do you think all spies are posing as reporters or diplomats? They all have cover in some way.Besides I didn’t say “Rodman was working for the government” I said “we don’t know that Rodman wasn’t in some way working on behalf of the government”.[1] Just like the publicity stunt that I did that landed on the front page of the WSJ that involved the IRS.

        2. Pete Griffiths

          Definitely. rodman isn’t actually bat shit crazy. He’s a genius agent who just pretends to be a total nutjob to throw people off the scent.

  35. vruz

    You clearly don’t have enough information about what Sony have been up to in the last 6 years, their neglect in protecting their users data (when they didn’t abuse of it themselves), their copyright mafiaa support of sopa and more.Adding insult to injury, reacting the way the extreme right wing and their cyberboogeyman would love us have.Better and more in depth information is advised.

  36. LE

    Give it to Netflix if they want it. Give it to iTunes if they want it. Give it to HBO if they want it. Give it to Showtime if they want it. Essentially give the film to the world and let the world, via the Internet, decide what they want to do with it. Any large visible distribution point would then be a target. Imagine a threat against Reed Hastings for example. Or any other execs or even employees at a company. Who is going to want to take this chance during the hot potato period?

  37. LE

    Of course this is about money to Sony. $42mm is a lot of money to write off. And it is a lot more than that given all the extra costs.If this type of thing happens with any frequency it will become an insurable event that you can pay upfront (will be coverage offered) to reduce any investment loss.

    1. ShanaC

      how many movies about north korea are there made in a year?

  38. LE

    Sony can do at this point is give the world the film and let us all decide what we think about it. We should not let cyberterrorist censorship have its way Don’t agree because that achieves an objective as well. We can call it a “DOP” “denial of profits” attack.

    1. Mario Cantin

      Your comments are all spot on to me. What do you think Sony should do then? Or have they already done the right thing, i.e., not adding fuel to the fire?

      1. LE

        Quick answer – They hold off on releasing anything until the furor has died down. Go into hibernation. Then take the temperature later with respect to distribution. Right now emotion is to high all they can do is not make any mistakes but overreacting.That said it’s not entirely a Sony issue. The theaters are really the issue. Obviously a theater has much to lose for making the wrong decision here.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          Correct. They put it in storage. Use this to get them over the furore about their emails. Then think again in a few months. By which time, by the way, we may find out is wasn’t N Korea at all.

  39. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I imagine Sony fears repercussions of releasing the film in any fashion. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  40. Kirsten Lambertsen

    At the risk of throwing the comments off the rails, just some food for thought.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      Interesting analogy, although it seems to me most of the sentiment (at least what I’ve seen) has been more of the equivalent of grow thicker skin and show the movie. I haven’t seen too many posts sympathetic to the movie theaters or Sony.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Yeah, I’d agree with that observation.I think the frustration expressed in that tweet has to do with the fact that women who’ve been targeted for online harassment generally have not been taken seriously by law enforcement.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Seems like a good response to that particular strain of harassment.

    2. andyswan

      In both instances the credibility and capability of the threat are investigated. Sony hackers proved to be quite capable….most anon threats are no where close to credible.Still though… I think this post and 90% of the reaction to Sony has been a big “grow thicker skin and do it!” attitude. Caitlin’s logic is off here.

      1. Matt Zagaja

        I’m not familiar with the specific facts of these cases, but I surmise most local law enforcement organizations lack the technical sophistication and ability to cross jurisdictions to actually conduct an investigation into many of the threats. It is also my understanding many of the threats are from a large volume of anonymous individuals which compounds the amount of resources to triage and evaluate them. Celebrities end up outsourcing this kind of thing to private security firms because they have the resources to do that, and then public officials have law enforcement units that do have the time/expertise to do that kind of thing.A threatened individual could probably make a lot of headway in finding a remedy in the civil courts with the aid of their own private attorney but until someone ends up dead I sadly don’t think we’ll figure out a way to handle this sort of issue for members of the general public.

      2. ShanaC

        you sure of that?(also, welcome back)

        1. andyswan


  41. matthughes

    Note a similar but less publicized attack on Las Vegas Sands Corp (direct ties with the Iranian government).

  42. mike

    USA Today Reports Sony just has no release plans to any platform, freeing all others in the other windows who have a deal with Sony with having to make a decision. So what will the first question at every industry event of a platform gatekeeper be? Would you have made it available in your window?

  43. Brandon Burns

    Yes, yes, so much yes.

  44. RyanDelk

    Some may have already pointed this out, but Sony’s losses will likely be significantly mitigated by insurance policies. They are sometimes structured to only pay out if a movie isn’t released in any capacity (including VOD, Theatrical, Netflix, etc.), which may be part of why they aren’t releasing it at all (in addition to the very likely scenario where not all private data has been released, and the worst is yet to come if they do choose to release it).

  45. Chris Phenner

    Reminds me of Wilco releasing ‘Yankee Foxtrot Hotel’ when Warner originally rejected it — resulting in far more cred and popularity than they would have otherwise seen.

  46. Rick Mason

    Here’s how a Texas cinema responded by having a free showing of Team America but Mitt Romney’s solution is way better.

  47. #abetterofcyberthreats

    My male buddies and I are thinking about sending out a cyber threat to any studio who is planning to release another romantic comedy…

    1. ShanaC

      i like romantic comedies #theoreticalpotentialgirlfriendsoftheworld

  48. ShanaC

    The larger problem – we don’t really have anything to go hit north korea back with. They can go hit companies who are not really getting ready for spearfishing attacks. North korea doesn’t have companies to do that with. we can’t bomb them out of existence due to relationship with china and south korea. No one really knows what goes on inside N. Korea – bu to ignore them may mean another sony for absolutely no reason (at least “the interview is sort of a reason, albeit a crazy reason)So that leaves us, where exactly, with north korea

  49. TQabcd

    Sony isn’t pulling the plug on the film; it is pulling the plug on the Dec 25 release and will release it at a later date.Also, all distribution is not equal. There is something very special and powerful about watching a film on the big screen. Films made for cinema vs TV are actually directed, planned and shot differently. Releasing straight to the little screen is an afront to the director and the many people involved in the making of this film – they got involved for the magic of seeing their film on the big screen.Let’s not let wannabe terrorists terrorize us.

  50. Pete Griffiths

    This will pass. I remember when 9/11 happened and all the talk was that entertainment would change forever. There weren’t going to be any more violent action movies. LOL.As the writer of one such movie (Collateral Damage) the release of which was put on hold because of the attack I was interviewed about this change of heart of the studios. I confidently predicted that it would pass. Human beings have an intimate relationship with action and violence. Their tastes won’t change easily. And whilst it may be popular now to speculate on how stories won’t be written to offend those who might hack for revenge, memories are short.

  51. Coral Watson

    Ah , this is a just a marketing gimmick. I believe this movie will release at a later time to an incredible openings.- coral


    If Sony hadn’t cancelled the film release as a result of the hack and the cyber threats, I never would have watched this film in the theaters. I may have watched it once it became available on the internet. This is how I usually end up watching Adam Sandler flics too.But now, I will make a point of watching this movie! Kim Jong Un, are you listening?

  53. Eddie

    I still think it was a marketing ploy, not releasing it made us all want to see it more. As for the attack, I believe that was an inside job.

  54. awaldstein

    I’m with you.The movie would sell out.I can’t see the studio doing this honestly.Rogan is one smart dude in my opinion and with his cadre of friends very powerful in Hollywood. Curious what say he has.Clueless how this will play out.

  55. laurie kalmanson

    pretty much the definition of asymmetrical attacks: speedboats vs. aircraft carriersif you’re doing air drops, include the movie already downloaded onto ipads with unlimited wireless and drop hotspots too …. connected to towers that you also dropalso, ipads across the middle east, preloaded with many many many hours of music and video

  56. pointsnfigures

    are they using VHS or Betamax in North Korea?

  57. LE

    to shut down US entertainmentThe good news is that there is a boatload of entertainment to take it’s place. The world won’t lose any sleep over not having the “nth” movie. It sucks to be them (whoever created this) but on the scale of problems not a big one by any means.Better this than attacking the power grid or the banking system.I’m with whoever referenced Dark Knight earlier–show it. Then air drop thousands of copies over N Korea. Sorry for saying it this way but very mature response!!!Exactly what you don’t want to do with someone who is mentally unstable. Get into a pissing contest with them.

  58. JimHirshfield


  59. LE

    Great response.Question though.If it is fun that you seek what are you doing in Lancaster baking bread?

  60. ShanaC

    towers need to be hooked into a backbone, which north korea doesn’t really have…