The Art House Convergence, a national coalition of smaller, independent movie theaters, on Monday told Sony Pictures that its members are willing and anxious to screen “The Interview.”
The group sent its message in an open letter to Sony executives Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal, pledging its support for them and the company’s employees targeted in the November hack attack. It also made clear that its member theaters were anxious to screen the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy about an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The nationwide Christmas Day release of “The Interview” was canceled in the wake of threats by the hackers claiming that theaters showing the film could be the target of attacks.
“Circumstance has propelled ‘The Interview’ into a spotlight on values, both societal and artistic, and in honor of our support, we want to offer our help in a way that honors our long tradition of defending creative expression,” said Russ Collins, the group’s director.
Included in the letter was a link to a petition urging other independent theater owners to tell Sony that they would screen the film as well. With 250 active members, the Arthouse Convergence represents about half of the roughly 500 independent cinemas in the U.S. Most of the theaters operate three or fewer screens.
The nation’s largest theater chains said that they would not screen the film after the terror threat, and Sony hours later scrapped its release. Subsequently, Sony’s Lynton has said that when the major chains pulled out, the studio had no choice but to cancel.
“We understand there are risks involved in screening ‘The Interview.’ We will communicate these risks as clearly as we can to our employees and customers and allow them to make their own decisions, as is the right of every American,” the letter said.
Sony initially said it would not release the film in any form. But Sunday its attorney David Boies said that the studio would distribute “The Interview,” but admitted he didn’t know when or how. The New York Post reported Sunday that Sony would offer it on Crackle, its free online streaming site, but that was denied by a studio insider.
Since the release was canceled, support has been building for the comedy to be released on some sort VOD or online platform.
George R.R. Martin, creator of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” was among those calling for its release, and even offered up his local theater.
“Regal, AMC, and every other major theatre chain in the United States have canceled their plans to show the new Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy ‘The Interview,’ because of – yes, seriously, this is not a ‘South Park’ sketch (though I expect it soon will be) – threats from North Korea,” Martin, 66, summarized for his readers on his LiveJournal.
“The level of corporate cowardice here astonishes me,” he continued. “It’s a good thing these guys weren’t around when Charlie Chaplin made ‘The Great Dictator.'”
According to Martin, there are plenty of independent theaters around the country who would have screened “The Interview.”
He said his local independent theater, the Jean Cocteau Cinema, would be “glad” to screen the film.
“Come to Santa Fe, Seth, we’ll show your film for you,” he wrote.