Stupid, hilarious, revolutionary? World reacts to ‘The Interview’ release
The brazen comedy, revolving around a farcical plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is now available through online video portals like Google’s YouTube and Microsoft’s Xbox Video.
The film’s theatrical release had been bumped up from October to Christmas Day, though last week Sony opted to cancel the film’s nationwide premier after major movie theater chains said they would not run it because of security concerns. Several dozen non-chain theaters, however, still went ahead and screened the film.
After all the wait and controversy, reaction to the film has ranged from effusive praise to mockery and everything in between.
Some theaters which have not been dissuaded in screening the film have used the outrage as a marketing ploy to demonstrate their first amendment bona fides. On theater, for example, has promised to give away free popcorn to anyone who brings a copy of the constitution to screenings of the film.
Vermont theater to give free popcorn to anyone who brings a copy of the constitution to screenings of THE INTERVIEW http://t.co/apNWljy1EG
— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) December 25, 2014
Actor Jonah Hill, a long-time friend and collaborator of The Interview star, co-director and producer Seth Rogen, tweeted to his more than 4.5 million followers a link to where they could watch the film. He of course, also remembered to tweet “Free Speech” after the link.
You can watch The Interview RIGHT NOW at https://t.co/s68HbXf57z ! Free Speech.
— Jonah Hill (@JonahHill) December 24, 2014
Others have stressed that as Americans, they have an equal right not to watch The Interview, be it for matters of taste or PR burnout.
All facts. RT @HeerJeet: A reminder: the right to watch The Interview also includes the right not to watch The Interview.
— Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisicoates) December 25, 2014
In one instance, it elicited a less than diplomatic rebuttal from Rogen.
Speaking of PR, some on social media have come to say the circus surrounding the Sony hack feels like one big stunt.
Doesn't this "The Interview" rollout feel like one giant publicity stunt at this point? Seems to me...
— Phil Jimenez (@Philjimeneznyc) December 25, 2014
What if this whole "The Interview" debacle was actually a brilliantly orchestrated promotional campaign by James Franco?
— Laura (@LauraLikesWine) December 25, 2014
All of which leads to the question: was it all worth it in the end?
Bloomberg Businessweek, saying the uproar over ‘The Interview’ is “utterly astounding” given how “stupid the film is,” said it is “far less compelling than the events it inspired."
The more youth-oriented Rolling Stone had a different take, saying the films mission “is merely to make audiences p**s themselves laughing. At that it succeeds.”
Iran’s Press TV took a far more serious tone, saying ‘The Interview’ isn’t a movie at all; it's a “propaganda tool.”
The Washington Post took the other side of the coin, saying the film was surprisingly perceptive in relaying certain realities of North Korean life, despite all of its flaws.
Kim Jong Un downloads The Interview. pic.twitter.com/F5kEtvHmgh
— MK (@Ground0Online) December 25, 2014
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the film is that is a pilot study in a digital model in releasing films which could potentially revolutionize the industry.
"I can't say that this is the future," Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations Co, told AP. "For this film, in particular, it works because of the saga that goes along with it. But it's nice to have a film we can actually use as a guinea pig for a video-on-demand release."
The Los Angeles Times was more optimistic, saying it will likely be “remembered as much for being a watershed moment in on-demand viewing as it is for any White House press conference or embarrassing emails.”
That would be quite the feat for a film crafted not by digital pioneers or political activists, but rather the world’s premier ‘bromance’ auteurs. But in the digital age, online piracy might already be taking the wind out of their sales.
According to TorrentFreak, just hours after the film was released online, 200,000 people had used bittorrent sites to download the film for free. How far that goes towards denting Sony's bottom line remains to be seen.
— Gregg Turkington (@greggturkington) December 25, 2014
The entire furor erupted in November, after hackers broke into Sony's computer systems, dumping hundreds of sensitive internal documents onto the Internet and warning the company against showing the film.
The FBI has officially pinned the hack on North Korea, saying the breach involved lines of code, methods, and encryption algorithms previously developed by the country.
North Korea has denied involvement, although months before the cyberattack, Pyongyang warned that the film was “a wanton act of terror and act of war” which would be met with a “merciless response.”
A North Korean envoy to the United Nations scaled down the rhetoric regarding the film’s limited release, saying the country will condemn the decision, but will not have any “physical reaction.” He added that the movie is an "unpardonable mockery of our sovereignty and dignity of our supreme leader."
He reiterated previous claims that his country was not involved in the hack.