Who would have thought there would actually be a picture that could advertise with the tagline "See this movie or the terrorists win" -- and it's actually sorta true?
This morning, Sony Pictures made "The Interview" available online. If you want to watch it, you can do so at YouTube, a dedicated site from the movie studio and Google Play. It's also available on Microsoft's Xbox Video. The cost to stream the film is $5.99.
Here are some of the Bay Area theaters where you can see the movie starting tomorrow, Christmas day:
- New Parkway Theater - Oakland
- Rialto Cinemas Elmwood - Berkeley
- Contra Costa Stadium Cinemas - Martinez
- Boulevard 14 Cinemas - Petaluma
- Livermore 13 Cinemas - Livermore
- Camera 3 - San Jose
- Sonoma 9 Cinemas - Sonoma
- Maya Century Plaza 16 - Pittsburg
- Rialto Cinemas - Sebastopol
- Fairfax Theatre 6 - Fairfax
The story of this movie is bound to wind up onscreen itself one day. The comedy, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, depicts a U.S.-sponsored plot to kill North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un. The film was scheduled for a Christmas Day release, but last month hackers infiltrated Sony Pictures, the studio behind the film, releasing embarrassing corporate emails and other sensitive information.
Eventually, suspicion fell on North Korea, a belief that increased after the hackers invoked Sept. 11 in a threat to theaters that warned them not to show the film. A majority of theaters then canceled their runs, and Sony pulled the film from distribution. Last Friday, the FBI said it had determined that North Korea was indeed behind the hacking. (CBS News ran a story yesterday questioning that conclusion.) President Barack Obama criticized Sony for bowing to a threat of terrorism, pressure mounted on Sony, and it finally booked the movie into about 200 smaller theaters around the country, according to the New York Times.
Local Theater Owners Say Matter of Free Speech
Dan Orloff, a partner with Camera Cinemas, which is showing the film in its downtown San Jose location, said the local chain is part of a network of independent theaters throughout the country, Art House Convergence, which encouraged Sony to release the film "in defense of the freedom of speech." After the studio made the film available, Camera management went to its staff to make sure they were on board, and they readily agreed, Orloff said.
In terms of security, Orloff said the theater has been in touch with the San Jose Police Department. "They are aware of what we're doing. They'll be extra vigilant, and so will we. Beyond that, we're not doing anything extraordinary."
The Camera had originally booked the film into several of its theaters before it was canceled. Normally, theaters shy away from booking films that will simultaneously be available on other channels, as "The Interview" now is. Orloff said the theater knew going in that Sony was looking to distribute the film online, and that the issue of its release went beyond mere commerce.
"A right to free speech not protected is a right potentially lost," he said. "If they want to show it for free at Candlestick Park, that would be fine."
Dave Corkill, the owner of Cinema West, which is showing "The Interview" at several of its Bay Area theaters, said he had originally booked the film as well before Sony pulled it. When the studio backtracked and made the film available, the theater chain "quickly made a decision to show this movie. When that movie was initially canceled, we had sold a lot of tickets, we had a lot of disappointed customers, and got a lot of feedback from those customers that they were disappointed in us for canceling, which wasn't our decision. It was Sony's decision."
He said that in the last week, the "movie has grown into more than just a movie, it's grown into a national statement of pride. Whether the movie content or not represents that, it's more about the issue of whether movie theaters can show movies that have content, whether controversial or not. In this case it's really a matter of free speech."
Corkill said the company did not believe there was a credible threat but would heighten security nonetheless, mostly to make patrons feel comfortable. To that end, customers will not be allowed to bring in backpacks, packages or bags.
Corkill said advance sales have been "brisk."