George Clooney Wants 'The Interview' VOD, Tried to Rally Hollywood
After major movie theater chains opted not to book The Interview to open on Christmas Day amidst threats of terrorism against any theaters showing the film, Sony Pictures decided not to release the film at all, and that includes VOD and home video for now. There's been plenty of discussion and rage about this decision fueled by fear of Kim Jong-un and North Korea, who are believed to be the driving force behind these threats and the hack of Sony Pictures, because of their distaste for the comedy about an attempt to assassinate the leader. Now Hollywood heavy-hitter George Clooney weighs in and highlights an attempt to get Hollywood's key players to rally behind Sony so they didn't have to scrap the film's release out of fear.
Deadline spoke to the director and actor who revealed a petition he tried to get people to sign. Here it is:
"On November 24 of this year, Sony Pictures was notified that it was the victim of a cyber attack, the effects of which is the most chilling and devastating of any cyber attack in the history of our country. Personal information including Social Security numbers, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and the full texts of emails of tens of thousands of Sony employees was leaked online in an effort to scare and terrorize these workers. The hackers have made both demands and threats. The demand that Sony halt the release of its upcoming comedy The Interview, a satirical film about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Their threats vary from personal—you better behave wisely—to threatening physical harm—not only you but your family is in danger. North Korea has not claimed credit for the attack but has praised the act, calling it a righteous deed and promising merciless measures if the film is released. Meanwhile the hackers insist in their statement that what they’ve done so far is only a small part of our further plan. This is not just an attack on Sony. It involves every studio, every network, every business and every individual in this country. That is why we fully support Sony’s decision not to submit to these hackers’ demands. We know that to give in to these criminals now will open the door for any group that would threaten freedom of expression, privacy and personal liberty. We hope these hackers are brought to justice but until they are, we will not stand in fear. We will stand together."
But Clooney explained that no one had the guts to step up and support the studio:
"All that it is basically saying is, we’re not going to give in to a ransom. As we watched one group be completely vilified, nobody stood up. Nobody took that stand.
Having put together telethons where you have to get all the networks on board to do the telethon at the same time, the truth is once you get one or two, then everybody gets on board. It is a natural progression. So here, you get the first couple of people to sign it and … well, nobody wanted to be the first to sign on. Now, this isn’t finger-pointing on that. This is just where we are right now, how scared this industry has been made. Quite honestly, this would happen in any industry. I don’t know what the answer is, but what happened here is part of a much larger deal."
That's right, no one in Hollywood would step up to help Sony fight this battle, so the studio was forced to stand alone. So while their move was certainly wrong in scrapping the release of The Interview, this was all about self-preservation as they got no support from any key players in the industry that is now so stirred up about the scenario. And like we've pointed out in our previous articles regarding this on-going debacle, Clooney sees this effecting the industry's approach to certain kinds of material and the kind of movies that end up getting made an distributed. He says:
"What’s going to happen is, you’re going to have trouble finding distribution. In general, when you’re doing films like that, the ones that are critical, those aren’t going to be studio films anyway. Most of the movies that got us in trouble, we started out by raising the money independently. But to distribute, you’ve got to go to a studio, because they’re the ones that distribute movies. The truth is, you’re going to have a much harder time finding distribution now. And that’s a chilling effect. We should be in the position right now of going on offense with this."
What does Clooney mean by that? He wants the film out on VOD immediately like we do:
"I just talked to Amy [Pascal] an hour ago. She wants to put that movie out. "What do I do?" [she asked]. My partner Grant Heslov and I had the conversation with her this morning. Bryan and I had the conversation with her last night. Stick it online. Do whatever you can to get this movie out. Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I’m not going to be told we can’t see the movie. That’s the most important part. We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-un, of all f*cking people."
And for those who say that these are the consequences that come from making a film that's about killing a real, current world leader, even in a comedy from Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and James Franco, Clooney doesn't see it that way, and I agree with him. He says:
"The 'South Park' guys did it. They blew up his father’s head. The truth of the matter is, of course you should be able to make any movie you want. And, you should take the ramifications for it. Meaning, people can boycott the movie and not go see your film. They can say they’ll never see a Sony movie again. That’s all fine. That’s the risk you take for the decision you make. But to say we’re going to make you pull it. We’re going to censor you. That’s a whole other game. That is playing in some serious waters and it’s a very dangerous pool."
Making this even more frustrating is that movie from the "South Park" guys, Team America: World Police, is not being allowed to screen around the country either, out of fear for these threats. This is getting out of control and it's setting a very poor precedent for films that might have controversial material that piss off certain groups of people. Now these groups know they can make an impact if they just make anonymous threats of violence. In another part of the conversation Clooney says, "This is a silly comedy, but the truth is, what it now says about us is a whole lot. We have a responsibility to stand up against this."
But why is Clooney so passionate? Well, he wants to make sure his own career his secure while also making sure that audiences have a variety of movies to go see. The actor explains, " I wanted to have the conversation because I’m worried about content. Frankly, I’m at an age where I’m not doing action films or romantic comedies. The movies we make are the ones with challenging content, and I don’t want to see it all just be superhero movies. Nothing wrong with them, but it’s nice for people to have other films out there." Clooney has his head in the right place. Now if only the rest of Hollywood can get on his level.