Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, sent a letter on Saturday urging the CEOs of 10 major theater chains to exhibit Sony’s cancelled comedy “The Interview.”
“I want to speak clearly on behalf of the Republican Party: I urge you to show the movie, he wrote in the letter posted on the RNC website. “As a sign of my commitment, if you agree to show this movie, I will send a note to the Republican Party’s millions of donors and supporters urging them to buy a ticket — not to support one movie or Hollywood, but to show North Korea we cannot be bullied into giving up our freedom.”
The controversy over the movie and the damaging hack attack that resulted has now spilled over from Hollywood into Washington DC, where President Barack Obama said Sony “made a mistake” in pulling “The Interview” from release, though the studio claims it had little choice once major theater chains refused to show the film at the urging of rival studios.
However, that’s not entirely true, as several small theater chains including the Alamo Drafthouse offered to show the film, and Sony declined the opportunity to give “The Interview” a limited release with increased security at a handful of brave theaters.
Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton took issue with President Obama’s characterization of the distribution situation, pointing out that Sony does not “own movie theaters. We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters.”
“The Interview” was scheduled to hit theaters on Dec. 25 but the film’s release has been postponed indefinitely.
Here’s the letter in full, addressed to Geraldo I. Lopez (CEO, AMC Theatres), Amy E. Miles (CEO, Regal Entertainment Group), Timothy Warner (CEO, Cinemark), S. David Passman (President & CEO, Carmike Cinemas), Ellis Jacob (President & CEO, Cineplex), Rolando B. Rodriguez (President and CEO, Marcus Theatres Corporation), Dan Harkins (Owner & CEO, Harkins Theatres), Sumner Redstone (Chairman and CEO, National Amusements), Elmer Bills, Jr (CEO, B&B Theatres), Ben Moss (CEO, Bow Tie Cinemas)
Dear Cinema Executives:
I’m writing regarding the recent cancellation of the release of The Interview. Like many Americans, I’m deeply concerned that we would allow a foreign regime to dictate the movies we can and cannot watch.
As you know, the Republican Party and Hollywood have at times been at odds. But we can all agree that the current situation regarding the release of The Interview goes far beyond politics. It is about freedom and free enterprise.
Giving in to threats from the North Korean dictatorship is ceding our freedom to the whims of a totalitarian regime. We are setting a troubling example and a terrible precedent. Today, we’re talking about the movie industry. Tomorrow, we could be talking about energy, manufacturing, publishing, or even small businesses.
While the president has sent mixed messages on this issue, I want to speak clearly on behalf of the Republican Party: I urge you to show the movie.
As a sign of my commitment, if you agree to show this movie, I will send a note to the Republican Party’s millions of donors and supporters urging them to buy a ticket—not to support one movie or Hollywood, but to show North Korea we cannot be bullied into giving up our freedom.
Because this is now bigger than one movie, I would suggest to you and to Sony Pictures that a share of the profits be donated to the USO or the Yellow Ribbon Fund.
Entertainment is one of America’s great exports and a major part of our domestic economy. Like you, I want to continue to see the industry thrive for the sake of economic growth, job creation, and freedom of expression.
Chairman, Republican National Committee