Sony says it is ‘surveying alternatives’ for film release

FBI confirm Sony hacking carried out by North Korean government

'The Interview' staring James Franco and Seth Rogen has attracted threats over its plot about the assassination of North Korean President Kim Jong Un. Video: Sony Pictures Entertainment

 

The head of Sony Pictures has insisted the studio has “not caved” over the decision to cancel the release of a movie about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

At his end-of-year press conference, US president Barack Obama said Sony had “made a mistake”, adding: “I wish they had spoken to me first.”

But Michael Lynton, the company’s chief executive, said Mr Obama himself was “mistaken” in his criticism of the decision not to show controversial film The Interview after hackers made terrorist threats against cinemas that chose to screen it.

Mr Lynton told US network CNN that the release was only scrapped after all major cinema chains decided not to show the film.

He said “The president, the press and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened. We do not own movie theatres. We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theatres.

“We have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered and we have not backed down.”

Meanwhile, the FBI confirmed the cyber attack on Sony that saw thousands of internal files leaked online was carried out by the North Korean government.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he was “deeply concerned” at the US agency’s findings.

Sony has suggested that it could now release the movie on DVD or through video-on-demand services.

The company said: “The only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theatres, after the theatre owners declined to show it.

“After that decision, we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform.”

Hollywood star George Clooney said the entertainment industry should push for immediate release of The Interview online.

He told the trade site Deadline that Sony should “do whatever you can to get this movie out”.

“Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I’m not going to be told we can’t see the movie,” he added. “That’s the most important part”.

Since the attack on Sony’s internal network, which was carried out by a group calling itself The Guardians of Peace, thousands of emails, personal details and even films from Sony have been leaked online.

As well as the cancellation of The Interview, a film which North Korea called an “act of war”, the cyber attack has seen emails between Sony executives criticising Angelina Jolie and the personal details and social security numbers of thousands of staff appear online.

The Guardians of Peace has since praised Sony’s decision to cancel The Interview’s release, and told CNN that no more Sony data would be released if the firm continued to comply.

PA

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