UPDATED, 4:49 PM: PEN American Center today expressed “profound regret” about Sony’s choice not to release The Interview on any platform. The group of 3,500 American writers who support free expression worldwide also called out New Regency for axing the planned North Korea-set film Pyongyang, which was to be directed by Gore Verbinski and star Steve Carell. “PEN has long documented the chilling effect that threats or acts of violence can have on free speech and creative expression,” the group said in a statement today. “The chilling effect of Sony’s decision has already been felt throughout the entertainment industry with New Regency’s cancellation of plans for the film Pyongyang. Complete suppression of the film would set a dangerous and deeply troubling precedent for other artists considering work on potentially controversial or offensive subjects. PEN urges Sony Pictures to release The Interview through every channel that does not pose a safety risk, to combat this chilling effect and stand up for creative freedom.”
Said PEN Executive Director Suzanne Nossel: “No matter how objectionable some may find the movie’s content, cancelling all plans to release The Interview deprives those who worked on it of the chance to distribute their work to the public, and denies the public the chance to see and appreciate it. Pulling the film gives the criminals who made these reprehensible threats exactly what they want. Sony should distribute the film as far and wide as possible through channels that are not judged to pose a risk to safety, to demonstrate support for its artists and its ongoing commitment to uninhibited creative freedom.”
PREVIOUSLY, December 16: Concerned that its members’ scripts and personal data have been compromised, the Writers Guild of America West says it is following the attack on Sony Pictures very closely. “The security of the intellectual property created by guild members and the protection of their personal information are very important issues for us,” a WGA spokesman told Deadline. “We are also concerned about the effects that a breach like this has on Sony and other legitimate businesses.” Deadline also has reached out to SAG-AFTRA and the DGA for comment but has not heard back.
WGA is rightly concerned. Not only has its members’ personal information been stolen but so too has their work. Five Sony films, including four that had yet to be released, were dumped onto online file-sharing hubs in the first days of the attack. It’s not only a theft of Sony’s copyrighted material, but downstream, it also threatens to diminish the residuals of the writers, actors and directors involved in the projects. Brad Pitt’s Fury, which already was in release, had been downloaded more than 1 million times within the first week of the attack.
The cyber criminals also released an early version of the script for Spectre, MGM’s next James Bond film. Some TV material was leaked as well, including an unreleased pilot script for Breaking Bad.