A few days ago, my friend asked me what I thought of the whole controversy about "The Interview." To be quite frank, I don't really care. I would if I was excited to see the movie, but after seeing "Neighbors" and "This is the End," Seth Rogen's name on a marquee means I should probably stay away. Once a rising comic star, his ego has swollen to such a huge degree that he believes that standing around and shooting his mouth off or screwing around with his friends is enough to be paid millions to do.
Sony was criticized by just about everyone for pulling the film after North Korea threatened retaliation if it was shown. That and the cyber attacks showed Sony that they are willing to make good on their word. However, North Korea is more bluster than anything (past history backs this claim up).
But here's the point that James Berardinelli made, and I think that it makes Sony's position clear: Berardinelli said that while he would be willing to risk the infinitesimally small chance of a terrorist attack if it was just him in the theater, he wouldn't be willing to do the same for his son. That kind of thinking has merit to a nation that starkly remembers the massacre in Aurora, Colorado at a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."
Many, including President Obama, have criticized Sony for backing down to a threat by a bully with no real force behind his words. North Korea is, after all, a small country, poor country with few friends. For them to actually commit an act of terror against the United States because of one movie (even one that centers on a plot to kill their leader) would be an act of almost suicidal lunacy. Not that that has ever stopped a power-mad dictator, but I digress.
So does it set a bad precedent? Yes, especially if there are other ways to release it (video-on-demand, Blu-Ray/DVD, etc). But they're thinking in financial terms, and that's going to be the bottom line every time.
"The Interview" will not be hidden forever. In fact, I don't expect it to be hidden for very long. Considering the backlash against their actions, it will probably be released in some way very soon. I'm just not excited to see it. Rogen is annoying as hell, and with him and his writing/directing partner Evan Goldberg at the helm, it sounds painfully bad. Unlike "This is the End," the duo's previous film, it has gotten mediocre reviews. This, by the way, could be one reason why Sony pulled the movie. They saw an opportunity to capitalize on controversy, and controversy always brings in dollars.
But if "This is the End" was a smash hit that got great reviews, I shudder to think of how bad "The Interview" will be if it's supposedly worse.