Sony's controversial film, "The Interview," is playing to sellout crowds at small number of theaters around the country -- and North Korea is now charging that President Obama himself was behind the movie's release. Ben Tracy has the latest on the film, and the flap:
Nobody is calling "The Interview" a triumph of film-making. In fact, reviews have been downright rotten. But somehow this past week, going to see a low-brow comedy became a high form of patriotism.
And an actor named Franco was being mentioned in the same sentence with a founding father named Franklin.
"I just wanted to support freedom of speech, you know -- being able to watch a movie in America is one of the things that we enjoy," said one fan.
"No other country should tell us what to do, that's it," said another moviegoer.
As most of us know by now, the film's fictional plot involves a plan to assassinate North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-Un. That didn't sit too well in the Hermit Kingdom, where Kim is second to none, and actors James Franco and Seth Rogen are now public enemy number one.
Rogen made a surprise appearance at a midnight screening Christmas Eve in Los Angeles, to say thank-you to moviegoers who brushed off threats of terrorism -- and didn't seem to mind his colorful vocabulary.
"If it wasn't for theatres like this and for people like you guys, this literally would not be (bleep) happening," Rogen said at the Cinefamily in L.A.
But it did happen, at movie houses across the country.
The mania over the movie seems to have trumped the larger issue: The FBI blames North Korea for the devastating cyber-attack on Sony Pictures that revealed embarrassing emails sent by executives, along with salary data.
- David Edelstein on hackers' chilling effect on movies ("Sunday Morning," 12/21/14)
- Ben Stein: Sony was prudent to scrap "The Interview" ("Sunday Morning," 12/21/14)
Then, when Sony blinked, the studio found itself in a new firestorm of negative publicity -- from no less than the president himself -- for cancelling the release of the movie.
"I wish they had spoken to me first," President Obama said. "I would have told them do not get into a pattern in which you're intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks."
- Obama: Sony "made a mistake" by canceling release of "The Interview" (CBS News, 12/19/14)
Andrew Wallenstein, co-editor in chief of the Hollywood trade publication Variety, told Tracy that there has been significant damage to Sony's reputation.
"The leaked emails have really impacted their relationships with major stars, major people behind the camera," Wallenstein said, "and it's going to take a lot of work, and perhaps some new leadership, to get Sony back on an even keel."
The film cost the studio a reported $80 million to make and market. But now, perhaps all the publicity the studio didn't pay for will eventually pay off.
- FBI sources: Sony Pictures cyberattack traced to North Korea (CBS News, 12/18/14)
- How North Korea could have pulled off Sony Pictures hack ("CBS This Morning, 12/19/14)
- Stars react after Sony Pictures cancels "The Interview" release (CBS News, 12/19/14)
- "The Interview" illegally downloaded 750,000 times (CBS News, 12/26/14)
- First box office returns in for Xmas release of "The Interview" (12/27/14)
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