Most actors and filmmakers want to keep their movies spoiler-free, but in the case of The Interview, Seth Rogen and James Franco were more than willing to share details in a recent live-tweet. After the massive Sony hack and the terrorist threats that followed, the film was pulled by the company and major theater chains from its intended Christmas Day release.
To combat this decision, which both actors have spoken out against (in addition to many others in Hollywood), The Interview had a limited release in independent theaters, bringing in $1 million — an impressive gross, considering it only reached 10 percent of the intended theaters.
It’s at this point that I gotta say that it’s f—king weird I’m watching this on TV right now. #TheInterview,” Rogen tweeted .
For the film, about a fictional assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the This Is the End stars opened up about the thought process that went into shaping the formidable character.
“We were gonna give Kim a big, epic entrance, but thought it would be funnier if he had a quiet, unassuming one. #TheInterview,” Rogen wrote . “There was a lot of talk about how sympathetic we should make Kim. #TheInterview.”
Franco added , “Randall park is flawless! He humanizes KIM! #TheInterview @Sethrogen @evandgoldberg.”
The pair also took the opportunity to talk about some of the real-life hardships going on in North Korea.
“The real Kim Jong Il told his sons that western culture would make them effeminate and unfit for ruling. #TheInterview,” Rogen wrote, adding , “Two thirds of the North Korean people are starving. #TheInterview. We try to stay true to the facts, but I honestly don’t know what the North Korean regime think of Jews. #TheInterview.”
The noted smoker also added , “Weed is legal in North Korea. #TheInterview.”
Sony has revealed that The Interview raked in $15 million from video-on-demand downloads since it was released on YouTube and Google Play on December 24th. The Hollywood Reporter writes that the controversial comedy was digitally rented or purchased over two million times, making it Sony’s most successful online film in the studio’s history. Additionally, the film earned another $2.8 million from indie cinemas over the four-day Christmas weekend.
While the last-minute decision to distribute The Interview to indie cinemas and directly on video-on-demand diminished the controversial comedy’s box office potential, the film’s inventive release has also opened the door to a new way of presenting a movie: Seth Rogen, his writing/directing partner Evan Goldberg and James Franco will all live-tweet during The Interview Sunday starting at 2 p.m. PST.
“@JamesFrancoTV , @evandgoldberg and myself will be LIVE TWEETING #TheInterview,” Rogen tweeted . “Join us! It’ll be like Pop-UP Video!” Because the film is available on VOD, Rogen, Franco and Goldberg can synchronize the viewing experience of their just-released film, which would have been virtually impossible had The Interview been conventionally released.
Given the uproar over the film – from being a catalyst for Sony cyber attack to inciting a war of words between the United States and North Korea – The Interview live-tweet should provide some insight into some of the chaos Rogen and Franco have been experiencing since their film was briefly pulled from its December 25th theatrical release.
The comedy, which details a wacky CIA plot to assassinate North Korea supreme leader Kim Jong-un, was withdrawn from its Christmas release after a hacker group named the Guardians of Peace threatened terrorist action against theaters showing the film. However, after President Barack Obama said Sony made “a mistake” pulling the film, the studio went into overdrive to find a method to release the film.
Despite only being released in just over 300 indie movie theaters, The Interview is still expected to reel in $3 million over the long Christmas weekend , significantly less than its expected box office from a conventional theatrical release. However, that number doesn’t factor in VOD sales, which should get a boost from the live-tweeting.
In 2011, shock jock Howard Stern was among the first to live-tweet a feature film when he provided an impromptu commentary on his biopic Private Parts while the movie was showing on HBO.
LOS ANGELES—“It’s obviously not Ryan Seacrest,” James Franco answered when asked who he based his celebrity TV show host character in “The Interview” on. “It’s sort of like the monstrous version of Ryan Seacrest.” James, sporting a shaved head in this interview at New York’s The London Hotel early this month, fielded questions about the controversial “The Interview.”
In the comedy codirected by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, James plays David Skylark, who goes with his producer (Seth) to North Korea to interview dictator Kim Jong-un. The CIA recruits the duo to assassinate the despot but the latter tries to win over the visiting American TV show host. North Korea has issued threats as early as when it got wind of the movie project.
The film has become an international incident, leading to the cyberhacking of its studio, Sony Pictures, terrorist threats against movie theaters that planned to show the movie (the film’s release is in limbo as we write this) (update: Sony Pictures decided last Tuesday, Dec. 23, to release the movie in some independent US theaters and a few online video services) and doubled the tension between the United States and North Korea.
Below are excerpts from our interview with James:
Did you and Seth discuss the possible consequences before making this movie?
I really didn’t know what the response would be. It’s a fictional movie. Obviously, this didn’t happen but we kind of based it on some reality…It was never like, oh, we’re making “Zero Dark Thirty” or something like that. We didn’t really think about consequences.
In light of the hacking incident, are you afraid that your private information in your e-mails was compromised?
No, not as far as I know. None of mine has been stolen. I have stuff on there that’s my private business. I would be upset if my private business got out simply because it’s mine. But I’m not ashamed of anything that’s in my computer. It’s just that it would be a violation of my privacy.
Let’s say if the hacking exposed your bank statements, private addresses…
I would be sad if that was hacked, yeah.
I didn’t say I had nude photos.
You’ve interviewed personalities. Do you still have someone that you’d like to interview?
I did interview for Playboy for a year. I did one for each issue so I did about 12 for Playboy. I really wanted to interview Cormac McCarthy. I adapted his book, “Child of God” (into a movie). I know him only by phone. I asked him if I could interview him for the magazine. Cormac famously doesn’t do many interviews.
He said, “Are you asking me if I want to do an interview for Playboy magazine?” I was like, “The magazine has a good history (of interviewing people like) Bob Dylan and John Lennon.” He was like, “No.”
Your scenes with Randall Park work really well. Can you talk about him?
Randall is so good. It’s fun to watch actors who haven’t worked on Seth’s movies. Good ones like Randall just get it. Randall ran away with it. He put a lot of his own spin on the
The whole seduction of my character by his character was really deepened and nuanced by Randall. You kind of like his character (as a result) and you actually buy that my character would become friends with Randall’s character. That was Randall sculpting that in the improvisation.
What did you think of Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea?
When the script or at least the concept for the movie first came up, it was when Kim Jong-il was around. I wasn’t involved but my guess is that they thought, wow, this concept is crazy. This is going to be an absurd movie. It took some years to get the movie together.
In the meantime, Dennis Rodman went over to North Korea, reflecting this crazy concept. It just keeps going. Our world is a little weird that way—a certain kind of celebrity in America and our culture can translate into power, attention or access to certain things.
The movie explores and satirizes that. I didn’t watch the “Vice” documentary about Rodman going over to North Korea. I don’t know much about their (Rodman and Kim Jong-un’s friendship) (laughs). I think Rodman wanted to be part of the movie but that wasn’t my [decision].
After all the headlines, drama, threats, and more, “The Interview” arrived without incident in time for Christmas. Granted, it was not the most conventional path for a major studio movie, with the comedy hitting a few hundred, mostly independent cinemas while also arriving simultaneously on a handful of digital outlets. So now the conversation can turn from the situation surrounding the movie, to the movie itself (here’s our review), and this in depth interview with principal creators is definitely worth a look.
Recorded a couple weeks before “The Interview” was initially pulled from release, Vice sat down with writers/co-directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, along with star James Franco, for a lengthy chat about the genesis behind the film, making it and much more. The discussion yields some interesting revelations, particularly that for the trio, “The Interview” is as much a satire about the media as it is about North Korea (Franco shares an anecdote about his own infamous TMZ moment). They also discuss the highly digital nature of the “The Interview” and how after “This Is The End,” they wanted their next film to be something with a few more locations and open spaces.
The Interview will have its Christmas miracle after all. Sony Pictures Entertainment confirmed on Tuesday, Dec. 23, that the Seth Rogen and James Franco-headlined comedy will be shown in select theaters, after the studio pulled its theatrical release last week after weeks of hacks, terrorist threats, and much hand-wringing.
“We have never given up on releasing The Interview and we’re excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day,” Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment said in a statement. “At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.”
In similar fashion, the movie’s stars Rogen and Franco both tweeted victoriously about Sony’s decision to show The Interview. “The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn’t give up! The Interview will be shown at theaters willing to play it on Xmas day!” Rogen, 32, tweeted Tuesday.
His pal Franco, 36, also expressed joy over the decision. “VICTORY!!!!!!!” he tweeted. “The PEOPLE and THE PRESIDENT have spoken!!! SONY to release THE INTERVIEW in theaters on XMAS DAY!” Franco followed up with a rather comical and intentional flub, praising President Barack Obama for his support.
“CELEBRATING!!!!!” Franco continued. “The Interview starring Seth Rogen and James Flacco saved by President Obacco! I MEAN PRESIDENT OBAMA!!!!! Sorry!!!” (The president called out Sony in his year-end briefing last week for not consulting him before pulling The Interview from theaters. “Yes, I think they made a mistake,” he told reporters in the White House. Obama also hilariously flubbed Franco’s name, pronouncing James Franco as “James Flacco.”)
Sony’s resolute decision comes after a flurry of dramatic events surrounding the film, including the intrusive company hacking scandal that’s exposed email exchanges between top level executives and world-famous talent. Later, the group responsible for the hack — an anonymous group called the Guardians of Peace — threatened terror attacks on theaters that will show the movie. Following the threats, Sony announced Dec. 17, that it was pulling the theatrical release of the film.
The FBI later linked the Nov. 24 hack to the North Korean government, which North Korean officials alter denied. The film stars Rogen and Franco as two journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.
The Palm Springs Film Festival announced its lineup Thursday, including the world premiere of “Don Quixote: The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha,” starring James Franco.
The festival, which runs from Jan. 2-15, will feature 192 films from 65 countries, including seven world premieres. Along with Franco’s “Don Quixote,” world premieres include “Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson” (USA), “Some Kind of Love” (Canada), “Spirit / Will / Loss” (USA), “Walter” (USA) and “Twenty-Five Palms” (Luxembourg), a documentary directed by Fabrizio Maltese from the 25th anniversary of the PSIFF in January 2014.
“This year’s lineup is particularly noteworthy not only for the overall excellence of the 190-plus films included, but for the extraordinary quality of storytelling involved,” said festival director Darryl Macdonald. “In this era of mega-blockbusters, filmmakers worldwide seem to be reacting by eschewing traditional genres and formats in favor of innovative and audacious new approaches to storytelling, with newly emerging talents from regions like Eastern Europe, the Arab countries and Latin America leading the charge.”
Among the festival’s screenings are buzzy Oscar contenders including Laura Poitras’ documentary on Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks “Citizenfour” (Germany) and “Two Days, One Night,” which is Belgium’s submission for the best foreign language film Oscar and for which star Marion Cotillard won the best actress award from the New York Film Critics Circle.
The festival features 65 premieres in total, with five international, 20 North American and 33 U.S. openings in addition to the world premieres. The full program of screenings and award recipients and contestants is available on the Palm Springs Fest website
If you’re disappointed you’ll no longer be able to see James Franco‘s interview skills in The Interview next week, maybe True Story can help scratch that itch. Directed by Rupert Goold, the Sundance drama sees Franco engaging in an entirely different kind of interview, from the other side of the coneversation.
Franco plays Christian Longo, a man wanted for murdering his family. He goes on the run and assumes the identity of New York Times reporter Michael Finkel — much to the surprise of the real Michael Finkel, played by Jonah Hill. Watch the True Story trailer after the jump.
The premise of True Story sounds pretty wild but, as the title suggests, it is in fact based on a true story. Finkel published a memoir about his bizarre encounter with Longo in 2006, and it serves as the source material for the film. Goold and David Kajganich wrote the script.
While Longo was fleeing from the authorities, Finkel was facing a fall from grace. The day after Longo’s arrest by the FBI, Finkel was fired from the New York Times for fabricating parts of an investigative article. Nevertheless, Longo insisted that he only wanted to speak with Finkel, so the journalist reached out to the prisoner to find out the truth.
The first True Story trailer looks intense and interesting. It’s not at all funny, but there is some amusement in seeing Franco and Hill go dead serious since they were fending off demonic penises and Hollywood egos the last time we saw them together.
Felicity Jones co-stars as Finkel’s long-suffering girlfriend. True Story has its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival next month. A theatrical release is scheduled for April 10, 2015. Here’s the Sundance synopsis:
When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo — who has taken on Finkel’s identity — his investigation morphs into an unforgettable game of cat and mouse. Based on actual events, Finkel’s relentless pursuit of Longo’s true story encompasses murder, love, deceit, and redemption.
With theater chains defecting en masse, Sony Pictures Entertainment has pulled the planned Christmas Day release of “The Interview.”
In announcing the decision to cancel the holiday debut, Sony hit back at the hackers who threatened movie theaters and moviegoers and who have terrorized the studio and its employees for weeks.
“Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like,” the statement reads.
“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public,” it continues. “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”
The studio did not say it would never release the picture theatrically. Insiders tell Variety that Sony is exploring all options, including offering the picture on premium video-on-demand as a way to recoup at least some of its investment.
The comedy centers on a hapless television host who is recruited to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The country has condemned the film and some cyber-security experts believe that it played a role in the hacking attack on the studio. North Korea has denied involvement in the attacks.
Seth Rogen and James Franco star in the picture, which cost $42 million to produce.
Sony has been reeling for weeks since hackers broke into the studio’s computer system in November and stole internal documents, email messages, film budgets, spreadsheets detailing top executive salaries and the social security numbers of thousands of employees. The documents and records were subsequently leaked online, setting off a firestorm of media coverage.
Tuesday’s message accompanied another data dump. It threatened violence on theaters that showed “The Interview” and people who attend screenings.
“The world will be full of fear,” the message reads. “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”
In response, exhibition industry lobbying arm the National Association of Theatre Owners said its members must decide individually whether to release the picture and Sony said it would respect theater owners’ decision not to exhibit “The Interview.” That set off a cascade of cancellations.
The bulk of the country’s 10 largest theater chains — a group that includes AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Carmike and Southern Theatres — announced they would delay showing the picture or would drop it altogether. In statements, many of the theater chains suggested that Sony’s lack of confidence in the film prompted their decision.
Regal, for instance, said its decision was “due to the wavering support of the film ‘The Interview’ by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats.”
Sony was more conciliatory even as it said exhibitor defections motivated its decision.
“We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theatergoers,” the studio’s statement read.
Bruce Nash, founder of box office site TheNumbers, said that Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for moviegoing and is particularly strong for family films. Any perceived danger or threat might have depressed ticket sales.
“It was never going to be one of the big films of Christmas and clearly chains are going to be concerned about making sure people feel comfortable bringing their children to ‘Annie,’ ‘Into the Woods’ or ‘Night at the Museum,” said Nash.
Fox Searchlight Pictures and Regency Enterprises have released the first photos from True Story, the Rupert Goold-directed film based on the book by Michael Finkel.
In the film, opening in select theaters on April 10, 2015, when disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) meets accused killer Christian Longo (James Franco) – who has taken on Finkel’s identity – his investigation morphs into an unforgettable game of cat-and-mouse. Based on actual events, Finkel’s relentless pursuit of Longo’s true story encompasses murder, love, deceit and redemption.
Felicity Jones co-stars in the film, produced by Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Anthony Katagas, and executive produced by Brad Pitt and Arnon Milchan