“The Interview” Question

Dec 23, 2014 by Andy Smith on The Nickelodeon Blog

As many of you have heard by now we, along with many of our art house peers across the country, will be opening the now infamous Seth Rogen/James Franco film The Interview this weekend. I wanted to take a second to explain the rationale behind the decision as it’s certainly extra-ordinary.

When all of the craziness began surrounding the release of the film, it was actually the commercial theater chains that made the decision to pull out from their screenings. Without theaters willing to show the film, Sony no longer had a viable way to release the film and made the decision to cancel the release.

I’m a proud member of the provisional board of the Art House Convergence, a national convener of theaters like ours. The leadership of the organization released an open letter to Sony earlier this week, explain our concerns over how this was handled. Seeing as the theater chains were effectively functioning as censors, we saw it as an obligation to step up in defense of creative expression.    As we wrote in the statement:

“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.”

(You can view the full text of the statement here.)

I have to admit, at the time I thought our sentiments would be summarily ignored by Sony.  Instead, somehow, we became the dog who caught the car.

In speaking to the Sony rep today, he told me they’re just interested in making sure the public have a chance to see the film. True to their word, they were very flexible with us, agreeing to let us keep all of our previously schedule screenings of Wild.  As a result we’ll only be offering one screening a day of the movie – usually pretty late at night.  But at least we’re able to show it.

While I will admit to taking pleasure in sophomoric stoner comedies every now and then, I can’t say that this film is anything we’d ever consider showing here in any other context. But this movie has come to represent something altogether different now. As an organization with a 35 year history of standing up to censorship, we can’t back down from this opportunity. Hopefully, that’s why you and so many others have supported the Nick for so long.

For those of you who would never want to see this film, no worries.  As I said it’s not disrupting anything else we had planned.  For those who want to get silly.  We’ll see you later this week.

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