Sony CEO Michael Lynton fired back at President Obama’s calling his decision to cancel “The Interview” a mistake, saying, “We have not caved” to terrorists.
“We have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered, and we have not backed down. We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie,” Lynton said on CNN.
“In this instance, the president, the press, and the public are mistaken on what actually happened,” Lynton told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “We do not own movie theaters, we can not determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters.”
President Obama said in a pre-holiday press conference that Sony “made a mistake” in deciding to pull “The Interview” from theaters and also from any video on demand or other release, in the face of threats from North Korea. The comedy depicts the assassination of leader Kim Jong-un.
In his first public remarks since the Nov. 24 hack, Lynton said he still would like people to see the movie.
CNN: Would you make the movie again?
“Yeah, I would make the movie again. I think for the same reasons we made it in the first place — it was a funny comedy, it served as political satire — I think we would’ve made the movie again.
“Knowing what I know now we might’ve done some things slightly differently, but I think a lot of events have overtaken us in a way that we had no control over the facts.
“We would still like the public to see this movie. Absolutely.”
The Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO, ironically, is a longtime supporter and friend of the president.
Lynton explained that Sony was sticking to its decision to release the movie on Christmas, but movie theaters started to come to Sony, telling them they wouldn’t carry the film, leaving them no choice.
Zakaria reported that Lynton has been calling the White House and working with them since the cyberattacks began, working with the FBI for weeks, and disputed Obama’s statement that he wished he was informed about Sony’s decision to cancel “The Interview” ahead of time.
“A few days ago, I personally did reach out and speak to senior folks in the White House and talked to them about the situation and actually informed them that we needed help,” Lynton said.
“I did reach out and explain the situation to them at that time … we definitely spoke to senior advisers to talk about the situation.”
Lynton went on to argue that Sony never pulled the film; it was the movie theaters that came to Sony refusing to show it.
“He [Lynton] did say that does not mean they are not going to show the movie, it means the December 25th release cannot proceed because there is no movie theater in America that was willing to show it,” said Zakaria.
The full interview will air Friday night at 8 p.m. ET on “Anderson Cooper 360.”
Watch the video here.