Obama Hails Screening of Controversial Sony Film
US President Barack Obama has welcomed a decision by Sony to screen a comedy about North Korea in a number of US cinemas on Christmas Day.
He had earlier criticized Sony for pulling the film following an alleged cyber-attack and threats against cinemas.
The US has accused North Korea of being behind the cyber-attack, the BBC reported.
Obama had called Sony’s earlier decision to cancel the film’s release a “mistake”.
His spokesman, Eric Schultz, said in a statement that the president applauded the change of mind.
North Korea has denied that it was behind the alleged cyber-attack on Sony, but praised it and had long condemned The Interview, which depicts a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The Interview was originally due to be released on up to 3,000 screens on Christmas Day.
Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said his company had “never given up” on a release, and was continuing efforts to have the film shown more widely.
In recent days North Korea has suffered severe internet outages, though it is not clear what caused the disruption. President Obama had previously vowed to respond to the alleged cyber-attack against Sony, but US officials declined to comment on whether the US was responsible.
Meanwhile, a growing number of critics are calling the alleged hacking attack on Sony hoax and a big publicity stunt. They argue that confronted with a mediocre movie seemingly destined to fail at the box office, Sony executives concocted a bold plan. First came the hacking, with the late November release of Sony employees’ social security numbers, e-mails, salary information, and even copies of unreleased films, “all in pursuit of the almighty dollar,” The Boston Globe wrote in an article, an excerpt of which is as follows:
But wasn’t the FBI able to prove the hacks came from North Korea? This is, of course, the same agency that a recent inquiry found had mishandled evidence at its offices all across the country. On top of that, moviemakers are masters of illusion,” the article went on to say.
Then came the threats. All of a sudden, there was a full-blown crisis at hand. In a press conference, President Obama said Sony “made a mistake” in backing down. “We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,”
There’s precedent for this. To promote a book, for instance, PR maven Ryan Holiday bought billboards which he then pretended were being defaced by those offended by the book. That stirred real-life protests and even provoked editorials in the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. The book sold well.