Turns out, today's surprise announcement that The Interview would be receiving a limited release may not be all good news after all. Despite widespread support from fans and celebs alike in response to Sony's reversal of their decision to pull the movie after it received terror threats from hackers purported to be linked to North Korea, there is one group that may not be too happy about the film's newly reinstated release date: Major theater chains. According to a report from Variety, "several executives" (who remain unnamed) from major theater chains aren't too happy that Sony is giving The Interview a limited release, particularly because they feel that Sony blamed them for the film's initial demise.
Here is Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton's original statement made on CNN during a Dec. 21 Fareed Zakaria GPS appearance in response to backlash regarding Sony's decision to initially cancel The Interview's Dec. 25 release:
When it came to the crucial moment, when a threat came out from what was called the GOP at the time, threatening audiences who would go to the movie theaters, the movie theaters came to us one by one over the course of a very short period of time - we were completely surprised by it - and announced that they would not carry the movie.
At that point in time, we had no alternative but to not proceed with the theatrical release on the 25th of December.
According to various reports, owners of major theater chains that had announced they would not carry the film (AMC and Regal, for instance) were furious that Sony was shifting blame to them — and now, according to Variety , they're even more angry that The Interview will be distributed to independent theaters as well as in a video on demand format. From Variety:
Several executives told Variety that they only wanted the film’s premiere to be delayed or modified. [...] Following Sony’s announcement of a limited release for “The Interview,” the move is expected to only deepen the resentments that have emerged over the past week between the studio and major exhibition chains.
Though this isn't confirmed by theater executives or Sony, it's not a particularly difficult to believe turn of events — The Interview is likely going to be a huge film when it opens on Thursday, and major theaters aren't going to see any of that box office money anymore.
Whether or not this will effect future relationships between Sony and major theater chains remains to be seen — but it looks like even now, with its renewed release, The Interview isn't going to stop making headlines anytime soon.
The Interview will be released to a limited amount of independent theaters, as well as on VOD, on Christmas day.