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.
#BREAKING Sony deciding not to move forward with planned Dec. 25th release of "The Interview" after majority of theatre chains pull the plug
— Pamela Brown (@PamelaBrownCNN) December 17, 2014
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
ames Franco’s recent SNL hosting gig poked fun at his eternally busy schedule. The Hollywood mainstay, who used to be known for his supporting roles and boyish good looks, is now littering the foreground of all things entertainment. He acts, directs, produces, teaches, writes, paints, sings and would likely jump at the chance to add another dozen verbs to that list. And now, the Interview actor created a feature film with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, directed by 12 of his students. Because when you’re James Franco, why the hell not?
The Color of Time, the unconventional (and risky) film Franco crafted with 12 of his students during a course he was teaching at NYU, is based upon the life and work of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet C.K. Williams. The film follows Williams (Franco) and his adoring wife (Mila Kunis) as he struggles to write new prose, becoming haunted by memories of his past: His childhood, his mother (Jessica Chastain), his first sexual encounters, and his first losses.
I spoke with James Franco and one of the 12 directors of the film, Bruce Cheung, about the story’s inception. “It came out of this idea to unite a class,” Franco said about the initial idea. “Classes are all run in the workshop format — whether it’s the art school or the writing school — so the students would make a project and bring it in and have it critiqued by their professor and film students. But unless you work on a collaborative film, you’re not invested in someone’s work,” he said. “Yeah, you want your friends to do better and you help each other along, but if you DP on someone’s film, then you feel like: ‘Oh, this is kind of my film, too. I want this film to be really good.’ So I thought: What if we worked on a film as a class together?”
The narrative, which begins with Williams as a young married man, moves backwards and forwards in time, woven together like patchwork. With each director claiming a section of the film as his or her own, Franco avoided a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario.
“The way it was structured allowed for a variety of voices while still allowing all these different voices to work in concert. You have these characters at the center, you have a central storyline, but then you have different episodes directors,” he explained. “Each director had his or her jurisdiction, their section to work on.”
For Bruce, collaborating with Franco was not only a chance to be mentored by one of Hollywood’s elite, but have the talents of well-known actors at his disposal. “I worked on the section called ‘From My Window,’” Cheung said. “It was a joy to work on because I had the opportunity to work with James and Mila, who have amazing chemistry. They showed up on my set right after shooting Oz [The Great & Powerful], in the middle of the night. I felt bad, but they have so much fun together, they improvised whole sections. It was awesome, I rarely work with such great actors, why not give them the freedom to express what their capable of.”
But Franco and Kunis weren’t the only heavy hitters to commit time to the picture. Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain came aboard as Williams’ mother in a series of sepia-soaked flashbacks that emote motherly love and fostering adolescent growth. Wish I Was Here’s Zach Braff also signed on, finding relatability in Franco’s ambition.
“Zach Braff had been through film school so he really appreciated the class. I think he was impressed by the ambition of this project, he was really happy to be a part of it. He even told me after that it was such a great experience, he loved the kids’ attitude,” he said, explaining that his involvement served Braff’s own inspiration. “I don’t know this — I won’t take credit for all of this — but I think it pushed him to go and find a way to direct his next movie. He had been trying for a long time to get financing for it and I guess having a hard time. He was getting really frustrated waiting for a gatekeeper to say ‘Yes, I want to make your next movie.’ And so he found a way to make his next movie and I don’t know if it’s all because he saw we made it happen on The Color of Time, but I think it had something to do with that.”
The Color of Time, filmed in Detroit after hours during Franco’s time shooting Oz: The Great and Powerful, had a very minimal budget, unlike many of blockbuster flicks Franco’s attached to. ”People in filmmaking say that obstacles force you to be more creative. But sometimes when I hear that I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah…’ But in fact it is very true.” The directors were thrifty, using Detroit as a convenient, and as it turns out, ideal location for their film.
But what’s more impressive than the thriftiness of production, was the array of female characters portrayed on screen. From mothers to friends to lovers and ultimately, a wife, this script offers more roles for females than males. Cheung spoke to this element: ”We wanted to create strong female characters, and there’s definitely a need for that in storytelling. It’s one of my really big hopes for the near future.”
The Color of Time is available on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and On Demand now and is playing in select theatres from Starz Digital.
Sundance Institute has added a pair of world premieres — Robert Redford’s “A Walk in the Woods,” and Jonah Hill and James Franco’s “True Story” — to the lineup of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
“A Walk in the Woods” stars Sundance founder Redford as a travel writer who sets out to hike the Appalachian Trail with a long-estranged friend, portrayed by Nick Nolte. Ken Kwapis directs the comedy-drama from a script by Rick Kerb and Bill Holderman. Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman and Kristen Schaal also star.
“True Story,” directed by Rupert Goold from a script he co-wrote with David Kajganich, centers on disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel (Hill) meeting accused killer Christian Longo (Franco) — who has taken on Finkel’s identity; his investigation morphs into a game of cat and mouse.
The Sundance Kids section added the U.S. premiere of “The Games Maker” from Juan Pablo Buscarini and starring David Mazouz, Joseph Fiennes, Ed Asner, Megan Charpentier, Tom Cavanagh and Valentina Lodovini.
The Kids section also added “Operation Arctic” from Grethe Bøe-Waal” in a modern-day Robinson Crusoe adventure set in the Arctic; and “Shaun the Sheep,” from Richard Starzak and Mark Burton.
The special events section added the world premiere of Romanian movie “Pioneers Palace B’92” from Bobby Paunescu, set in the wild days of post-Ceausescu Bucharest.
The new frontiers section added three live-action virtual reality experiences by artists Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël: Herders” and “Wild — the Experience” by Lajeunesse and Raphaël; and “Strangers” by Patrick Watson.
The Sundance Collection will present a digital restoration of “Paris Is Burning” by Jennie Livingston.
Seth Rogen and James Franco have canceled all of their upcoming scheduled press appearances this week for The Interview as a result of the threats made by the Sony hackers, Gossip Cop has learned. An NBC rep confirms to Gossip Cop that a slated Franco and Rogen joint interview with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday’s “Tonight Show” is no longer happening. Additionally, The Interview is set to have a special screening in New York on Thursday, but whether it takes place at the appointed theater, as planned, is subject to change based on security issues.
As Gossip Cop previously reported, the so-called “Guardians of Peace,” the group claiming responsibility for hacking Sony, is threatening the safety of people going to movie theaters showing The Interview. Invoking 9/11 and promising revenge over the “greed” of Sony, the group issued a statement on Tuesday that read: “We have already promised a Christmas gift to you. This is the beginning of the gift. We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places The Interview be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.”
The statement continued (in broken English), “Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. 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.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY.”
The Department of Homeland Security, however, says there’s “no credible intelligence” that terrorist acts are being plotted against movie theaters in the U.S
I have add 81 HQ photos from Premiere Of The Interview to the gallery.
I have add some more photoshoots from 2014 to the gallery
I have add DVD caps of the movie Oz the Great and Powerful to the gallery