Art House Theaters Tell Sony They Want to Screen ‘The Interview’

The Interview Seth Rogen James Franco

Art House Convergence, which represents independent exhibitors with a total of 250 screens, has told Sony Pictures that its members want to screen “The Interview.”

In an open letter to top studio executives Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal, the group pledged its support for the studio and its employees in the wake of the massive hack attack. The nationwide Christmas Day release of “The Interview” was canceled following the hackers’ Dec. 16 threat that theaters showing the film could be the targets of 9/11-style attacks.

“Your Art House motion picture colleagues wish to support you and your company,” said Russ Collins, the group’s director, in a letter released Monday.

“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.”

Art House Convergence has also launched an online petition at Change.org urging other independent theater owners to pledge that they will also screen “The Interview.”

Reps of the major U.S. theater chains have told Variety that they are upset that Sony Pictures Entertainment has insisted in public statements that the exhibitors are the major reason the studio canceled the release of “The Interview.” Authorities said Friday that North Korea is behind the hackings as punishment for Sony’s “The Interview,” which centers on a plot to kill the country’s leader Kim Jong-un.

“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 on Dec. 17 that it would not release the film in any form. A source close to the studio told Variety that Sony still hopes to release “The Interview” by the end of 2014, but the comedy will likely forgo a theatrical release and will be made available through a patchwork of electronic sell-through, video-on-demand and other home entertainment platforms.

The online petition reads as follows —

We, the independent art house community, specifically the theaters below, express our support for Sony Pictures and all of its employees worldwide in this difficult time. We want to share our encouragement and appreciation for Sony and the great contributions it has made to the film industry, especially to our sector of art houses and independent cinemas.

On December 16th, the Terrorist Organization, “The Guardians of Peace,” escalated their threats by promising terrorist attacks against cinemas showing THE INTERVIEW.  “The world will be full of fear,” their message read, “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”

With this threat, the issue became larger than any film, larger than Sony and larger than the entertainment industry: societal and artistic values are in peril. We are at an important crossroads with an opportunity to reaffirm clearly our dedication to the value of freedom and the absolute necessity to keep our film industry free of restriction, censorship and violent intimidation. We implore our fellow exhibitors and our nation of moviegoers to stand up in recognition that freedom of speech and artistic expression are vital not only to the entertainment industry but for all art and commerce worldwide.

We stand in solidarity with Sony and offer our support to them in defense of artistic integrity and personal freedoms; freedoms which represent our nation’s great ability to effect change and embrace diversity of opinion.

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. Understanding those risks, the undersigned, independent cinema owners and operators of America under the banner of the Art House Convergence, do hereby agree to support Sony and to support theatrical engagements of THE INTERVIEW should Sony, at its sole discretion, decide to release it to theaters.

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  1. Glad to know there are still some theater owners out there with balls.

  2. Matt says:

    I forgot to mention the direct online release will be attacked and all those that down load it will get the virus and pass on the infection. So Cinema and DID is safest from cyber attack.

  3. John Shea says:

    Many thanks to art house theaters!

  4. Matt says:

    Break out the popcorn. Sony makes movies the theater show them and threat like 9/11 is dealt by the government. At worst we send off duty jacketed members to the theaters as private security. It is bad enough the Pigm tell his own people what to think and do let alone us.

  5. harry georgatos says:

    These indie cinemas know a gold mine! Sessions will be sold out.

  6. diyana says:

    this is excellent. i will definitely be attending any screening that takes place near me.

  7. nerdrage says:

    Which “art house theaters”? Here in SF, there are several, including an Alamo Drafthouse (opening in the spring, so not quite ready). If it’s within a 50 miles radius of me, I’ll be there for the premiere!

  8. There’s an art theater in long beach, it’s about an hour away from where I live but I would definitely drive up there to see this movie, regardless of the risks.

  9. RyGuy says:

    So Sony Pictures Classics will release it in art house cinemas?

    • jhs39 says:

      I don’t imagine that Sony Pictures Classics will be involved. If Sony goes this route they might release it to the art-house theaters that are volunteering to screen it then expand to commercial theaters a week or two later if the threats of violence turn out to be empty and there is enough commercial interest in the film. It would be a boon to the art-house theaters even if they only get the exclusive screenings for a week or two–the movies they typically play don’t sell out auditoriums unless it’s a mainstream art film that is going to open wider–Nebraska and 12 Years A Slave both opened very strong in limited release before expanding into commercial theaters. This is exactly what the theater chains asked Sony to do rather than completely pull the film but Sony rejected the idea because they were hoping to bury The Interview, blame the exhibitors and escape further wrath from the hackers.

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