Last we heard, Sony had given theater chains the option to voluntarily opt out of showing The Interview in response to the “Guardians of Peace” 9/11 threat. Carmike Theaters has since opted out of showing it while other chains consider the same, then Sony canceled The Interview‘s NYC premiere (it already had an LA premiere), and was reportedly considering scrapping the planned Christmas Day release altogether. This news prompted many an angry commenter to accuse them of letting the terrorists win, but according to a new report, Sony is now facing a backlash of the opposite kind from a different quarter – rival studios, who worry that security concerns over The Interview will keep people out of theaters, and by extension, hurt their movies. Everyone’s got an angle, yo.
Several studios held closed-door meetings this week to discuss 11th hour strategies for films that will be out or opening on Christmas Day. The Dec. 25 releases joining “The Interview” are “The Gambler” and “Into the Woods,” while “Annie” and installments of “The Hobbit” and “Night at the Museum” will be out less than a week and looking for strong second-weekend hauls. Contingency plans have included the last-minute winnowing or widening of theater counts, depending on whether the comedy about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ever sees the big screen.
But short of Sony yanking the film completely — or a nationwide exhibitor boycott — some distribution officials remain anxious as Christmas draws near.
“As for the other studios, what can they do?” asked one distribution exec. “The theaters can step up security, but I don’t really see any other option. The only measure would be Sony pulling the film.”
To take a myopic, Machiavellian view, as corporations will inevitably do, the best-case scenario for other studios is that Sony yanks the film, and the other films opening benefit from reduced competition combined with a wave of “don’t let the terrorists win.” Right now it seems to me studios are overestimating the public’s fear of a terrorist attack and underestimating their “f*ck you, terrorists!” reactionary fervor. The latter impulse seems stronger than the first, but who knows whether people will put their children where their pissed internet comments are when it comes time to pay more than lip service.
Washington, meanwhile, has offered studios little more than vagaries. “This is only the latest example of the need for serious legislation to improve the sharing of information between the private sector and the government to help companies strengthen cybersecurity,” Senator Diane Feinstein said in a statement to TheWrap on Tuesday night. “We must pass an information sharing bill as quickly as possible next year. Today’s threat against moviegoers is unconscionable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. Law enforcement is investigating these threats and will do everything possible to keep the public safe.”
Uh, counterpoint: Do we really want to give the government permission to collect more of our data when they were already doing it without permission? Or, to put it another way: Let me get this straight, you want us to safeguard our information by giving more people access to it? That seems…. uh…. hmm.
In the meantime, I guess the best way to fight terrorism is to CHANGE YOUR DAMN PASSWORDS. Your bank password should probably be more complex than your porn star name.