At a press conference this afternoon, President Obama said that Sony's decision to cancel the theatrical release of The Interview was "a mistake." Now Sony executives are scrambling to point out, if there was a mistake — and they're not saying there was one — it was totally the theater chains' fault, since they scrapped the movie first. As Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton told Fareed Zakaria, "We do not own movie theaters. We cannot determine whether a movie will be played in movie theaters." (Hollywood studios have been forbidden from owning theater chains since 1948.) Lynton added that he was "disappointed" by the president calling Sony out, saying "I don't think he understands the sequence of events." The interview was accompanied by a statement from Sony saying the studio was exploring alternative release avenues for the film: "It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will be able to do so."
Sony's full statement is below:
Sony Pictures Entertainment is and always has been strongly committed to the First Amendment. For more than three weeks, despite brutal intrusions into our company and our employees’ personal lives, we maintained our focus on one goal: getting the film The Interview released. Free expression should never be suppressed by threats and extortion.
The decision not to move forward with the December 25 theatrical release of The Interview was made as a result of the majority of the nation’s theater owners choosing not to screen the film. This was their decision.
Let us be clear –- the only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theaters, after the theater owners declined to show it. Without theaters, we could not release it in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice.
After that decision, we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform. It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so.