British cinema audiences finally got to see for themselves what all the fuss was about when The Interview, a comedy about two hapless US journalists’ attempts to assassinate the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was released on over 200 screens across the country on Friday.
Unlike in the US, where Sony initially pulled the film from distribution for fear of further retribution from North Korean hackers, the film got a full cinema release in the UK.
In June 2014, the North Korean government threatened “merciless” action against the United States if the film’s distributor, Columbia Pictures, went ahead with the release. Columbia delayed the release from October 10 to December 25, and reportedly edited the film to make it more acceptable to North Korea. In November, the computer systems of parent company Sony Pictures Entertainment were hacked by the “Guardians of Peace”, a group the FBI believes has ties to North Korea. After leaking several other then-upcoming Sony films and other sensitive internal information, the group demanded that Sony pull The Interview, which it referred to as “the movie of terrorism”. On December 16, 2014, the Guardians of Peace threatened terrorist attacks against cinemas that played The Interview.
On December 17, after a number of major North American cinema chains canceled screenings in the interest of safety, Sony canceled the theatrical release of The Interview, drawing criticism from the media, Hollywood figures and the White House. Sony made The Interview available for online rental and purchase on December 24, followed by a limited release at select cinemas on December 25. The Interview has earned $40 million in digital rentals, making it Sony’s most successful digital release, and over $6 million at the U.S. box office.
In the action-comedy The Interview, Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show “Skylark Tonight.” When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim Jong-un.