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A leading coalition of independent theater owners is urging Sony Pictures Entertainment to let them play The Interview, the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy that was pulled following the unprecedented cyber attack against the Hollywood studio.
“Your art house motion picture colleagues wish to support you and your company,” said Art House Convergence director Russ Collins in an open letter to embattled Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton and co-chairman Amy Pascal. “Circumstance has propelled The Interview into a spotlight on values, both societal and artistic, and in honor of our support, we want to offer our help in a way that honors our long tradition of defending creative expression.”
Additionally, the group has mounted an online petition asking other cinema owners to express their support of Sony and defend the civil liberties of all Americans. The group represents some 250 theaters in the United States.
In The Interview, Rogen and Franco play two bumbling journalists who are asked by the CIA to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The FBI believes North Korea is behind the hacking of Sony.
The AHC petition itself states, “We understand there are risks involved in screening The Interview. We will communicate these risks as clearly as we can to our employees and customers and allow them to make their own decisions, as is the right of every American. Understanding those risks, the undersigned, independent cinema owners and operators of America under the banner of the Art House Convergence, do hereby agree to support Sony and to support theatrical engagements of The Interview should Sony, at its sole discretion, decide to release it to theaters.”
On Dec. 17, Sony announced it was pulling the R-rated comedy from its Dec. 25 release date after the country’s largest circuits said they wouldn’t play the film in the wake of direct threats to theaters by the group claiming to be the hackers.
But Sony was forced to go on the defensive when President Barack Obama said the studio made a mistake in pulling the film.
Lynton responded by saying Sony had no choice but to pull the movie once a majority of exhibitors said they wouldn’t carry The Interview. Lynton’s comments, however, have angered many cinema owners, who say Lynton is trying to pass the buck. And Obama countered that he would have called exhibitors himself had he known that Sony would actually scrub the release date.
Sony declined comment on the letter sent to Pascal and Lynton by AHC. Nor has there been any update on whether Sony will go ahead and release the comedy in some capacity.
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