You may recall that at one of last years’ Upper and Middle School assemblies, Dan Sterling ’89, a Germantown Friends School alumnus who has struck gold as a television and movie writer, showed unreleased snippets of his upcoming film. The $42-million film, The Interview, originally scheduled for a Christmas release, has been pulled from distribution due to threats to movie-goers. Also linked to this incident is the controversy involving the hacking of Sony Pictures and the releasing of personal information from its executives and several actors and international figures.
Sterling has written for some big-name TV shows like “South Park,” “Kitchen Confidential,” “Girls,” and “The Office.” Last year Dan came to the Middle and Upper Schools here at GFS to talk to us about his life and his new movie called The Interview.
The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, is a comedy about an intellectually-challenged journalist and his witless producer. Both are sent on a mission by the CIA to assassinate North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un. The movie was due to be released by Sony on December 25, 2014. However, the movie’s release was cancelled after Sony was hacked and subsequently received warnings threatening the US and movie theaters.
On December 8, Sony was hacked by a group self-named the Guardians of Peace, who made threats to recreate attacks similar to September 11, 2001. The hackers leaked personal information including social security numbers, emails and information about upcoming movies including the new James Bond move, Spectre. Many of the emails involved celebrities, executives and incredibly powerful people, including Mark Zuckerberg and Angelina Jolie.
The hackers made threats such as, “Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear” and “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.”
On December 18, Sony pulled the movie from distribution after the majority of movie theaters indicated they wouldn’t show the film.
One of the biggest questions is whether or not the hackers were controlled by Kim Jong-Un and North Korea, or whether they were third-party hackers. While the FBI originally thought that it wasn’t North Korea, they have since stated that it was likely Kim Jong-Un.
The lead actors of the film, Rogen and Franco, have cancelled all media appearances in light of the cyber attacks. With all this controversy, major picture companies may reconsider making fun of major oppressive dictators of the world (that also happen to have nuclear bombs).
But this is all a question of free speech. Movies are a form of free speech, and preventing them from releasing the movie is a real concern.
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By Julian S &Justin N