Sony Pictures u-turns on its decision to pull parody film The Interview following a cyber attack blamed on North Korea – and now wants it released in cinemas on Christmas day.
Less than a week after withdrawing The Interview from cinemas, Sony Pictures has lined up a “limited theatrical release” in the US.
The comedy centres on a fictional plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.
Its release was cancelled after Sony suffered a cyber attack, and theatres were threatened with further cyber hacks if they showed the film.
The Sony hack led to the release of embarrassing internal emails and leaks about some if its biggest planned films, including the next James Bond instalment Spectre.
US President Barack Obama said on Friday that Sony’s decision to pull the film was a mistake, suggesting it could set a bad precedent in which “some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States”.
Upon pulling the film from cinemas, Sony said it was “deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie”.
The US said it was considering putting North Korea back on its list of terror-supporting countries, with North Korea issuing bizarre threats to strike the US mainland.
North Korea said its “toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole US mainland” in a statement released via the state news agency KCNA, which ran to 1,600 words.
But Washington does not appear to be taking seriously North Korea’s threats to launch cyber attacks against cinemas that may show The Interview.
North Korea experienced problems with its internet at the weekend and then a full outage before services were mostly brought back online on Tuesday. US officials said Washington had not been involved.
Matthew Prince, chief executive of a US-based firm CloudFlare which protects websites from web-based attacks, said the fact that North Korea’s internet had started working again “is pretty good evidence that the outage wasn’t caused by a state-sponsored attack, otherwise it’d likely still be down for the count”.