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This article was published on December 17, 2014

We all lose when theater chains bow to Sony hackers

We all lose when theater chains bow to Sony hackers
Roberto Baldwin
Story by

Roberto Baldwin

Roberto Baldwin was a reporter for The Next Web in San Francisco between April 2014 and March 2015. Roberto Baldwin was a reporter for The Next Web in San Francisco between April 2014 and March 2015.

Editor’s Note: This article was written before Sony announced the cancellation of the December 25 “The Interview” theatrical release.

The GOP (Guardians of Peace) hackers that infiltrated Sony Entertainment’s corporate network have won.

After hacking into a system that employees warned wasn’t very secure to begin with (there’s now a class action lawsuit against Sony pertaining to this security, or lack thereof) the GOP hackers released a series of awkwardly-worded threats along with a treasure trove of internal Sony emails.

The scariest threat appeared yesterday:

We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
The world will be full of fear.
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.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
All the world will denounce the SONY.

Now the hacker group has evolved into a terrorist group even going so far as to use 9/11 to strike fear into the hearts of Seth Rogen fans. In the aftermath, theater chains are pulling the movie from their release schedule. According to the Hollywood Reporter, five national chains have decided not to show “The Interview” on December 25.


I can understand why these chains did this. Even if a movie goer has no interest in “The Interview,” knowing that it’s playing in the same theater as the movie they want to watch could give them pause. It’s a safety issue, but more importantly, it’s a business issue. Christmas Day is huge for movie theaters and now one wants to lose potentially millions over a goofy comedy driving customers away.

But, this creates a dangerous precedent. The hacker group GOP won this time, but what’s to stop them and other hacker groups from breaking into a corporate network then blackmailing a company to meet their ridiculous demands? Or worse, blackmailing citizens?

Yes, “The Interview” is a comedy about two morons that are hired by the CIA to assassinate North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un. But it’s a work of comedic fiction and it might not even be that good. Hell it might suck (it currently has a 50-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes). But, right now, it’s a symbol. A symbol of what can happen when we let fear take over reason.

Fear is why I have to take off my shoes when I get on a plane. Fear is why parents get arrested for letting their kids play in a park while they’re at work. Now we’re letting fear stop us from watching a stupid movie.

What has the GOP done that affords it the power to stop us from going to a theater? It’s not on the FBI list of terrorist organizations. Hacking and terrorist attacks are not the same.

Any good hacker with time on their hands can eventually get into a corporate network. If they have a phone and are even the tiniest bit charming, the chances of them infiltrating a corporate network skyrockets.

That is not the same as planning and launching a terrorist attack. Not even close. Yes, a single person can cause an incredible amount of damage when they put their minds to it. But sadly, that’s nothing new in the United States.

So now we sit by and watch theater chains bow to the threats of some hackers that no one even heard of before November. Apparently they have 10TB of Sony information. So after the “The Interview” leaves theaters they might have a problem with another movie from the studio. Maybe they’ll have issue with a game coming to the PlayStation 4. Hell, they might take offense at Sony artist Meghan Trainor’s song, All About That Bass. Maybe GOP is all about that treble?

Do we stop watching movies in theaters because someone in another country got their feelings hurt? Do we stop buying games at brick and mortar shops because a game paints a country in a light that’s unflattering? And really, should we stop going to concerts because hackers hate catchy songs that may not line up with their view of women?

Deadline reports that Fox and New Regency just scrapped a film set in North Korea.

But, you know, safety.

Sony could circumvent the entire theater chain system and release the movie to the myriad of VOD (video on demand) services. At this point, all windowing (when a movie is scheduled to be released in and on certain media) contracts are pretty much worthless. It could recoup at least some of the huge loss it’ll take by not having the movie in theaters.

Everyone wants to watch the movie now thanks to GOP. Sony might as well make it easy for them. The chances of the hacker group taking down iTunes, Amazon, M-Go, Google Play and all the other VOD services are pretty slim and it’s nowhere as simple as hacking into a corporate server.

Right now GOP is winning. The question is, will it continue to win?

Image credit: Sony Entertainment

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