EXCLUSIVE: Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures President of Worldwide Distribution, disputed a Deadline report that exhibitors are upset over Sony’s handling of The Interview. Days after cancelling the December 25 release of the film, Sony today decided to open the film after all. Several exhib sources expressed emotions ranging from anger to exasperation. Bruer countered that Sony has lined up over more than 300 theaters in most major cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Cleveland, Phoenix and Dallas — more theaters than anyone expected considering the late notice and the fact that Sony is planning to simultaneously release The Interview via a VOD/streaming strategy that is still being finalized. Mostly, Bruer wanted to set the record straight over the notion that Sony’s relations with exhibitors that are part of NATO and independents have been damaged by the radically changing situation. Bruer wanted to make it clear that he has been transparent with exhibitors in managing an unprecedented situation.

rory“I have been totally open with exhibitors, every step of the way,” Bruer told Deadline. “My conversations have been really fruitful, with a total openness in regards to how we were moving forward. My relationship with exhibitors and the folks we do business with is very important, and I wouldn’t take part in anything that would put that at risk. What you heard wasn’t what anybody has been saying back to me. If that had been the case, I would have brought it to the table at our company, big time, if I thought there was something that was going to harm our relationships. I don’t want that, and neither do they. Everybody knew this was a tough situation, and they’ve shown a lot of understanding. Many of them offered to help us in anyway, and they understood that we had to do it any way we could to do what is best for our business. It has always been my intention to have excellent partnerships with major exhibitors and independents. We maintain strong partnerships.”

Bruer said that many of the theaters showing The Interview are from NATO chains; the studio was sympathetic toward those that would not play the film either because they’d booked other product or because they won’t play films with a day-and-date VOD component. The studio would not comment on split terms on the film or whether Sony kicked in to pay for heightened security, given the terrorist threat that was leveled by the North Korea-backed parties that had hacked Sony’s servers and served up embarrassing emails to bottom feeding media outlets.