President Barack Obama weighed in on the Sony hacking scandal and the decision to cancel the release of The Interview during a press conference on Friday.
Sony Pictures pulled Seth Rogen and James Franco's movie about attempting to assassinate North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un after hackers who called themselves Guardians of Peace leaked embarrassing emails from top executives and producers, full-length movies and threatened Americans with 9/11-like attacks if they went to see the film. U.S. officials confirmed this week that North Korea was behind the cyber attack.
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"Sony's a corporation. It suffered significant damage. There were threats against some of its employees," President Obama said. "I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake."
Obama said that he wished that Sony had spoken to him before the cancellation was made.
"We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States," Obama said.
Within minutes, Sony CEO Michael Lynton responded to the POTUS' comments on CNN.
"We do not own movie theaters," Lynton said. "We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters."
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According to Lynton, after five top exhibitors refused to play the movie, Sony had "no alternative" but to scrap the release.
This follows comments from George Clooney, who was also disappointed that the film wouldn't be released.
Clooney, along with his agent Bryan Lourd, tried to take matters into their own hands and attempt to have high-level executives stand behind Sony and the release of The Interview by signing a petition. "We fully support Sony's decision not to submit to these hackers' demands. We know that to give in to these criminals now will open the door for any group that would threaten freedom of expression, privacy and personal liberty," the petition reads. "We hope these hackers are brought to justice but until they are, we will not stand in fear. We will stand together."
However, when he brought the petition forward, no one would sign it. "I don't know what the answer is, but what happened here is part of a much larger deal," Clooney said. "A huge deal. And people are still talking about dumb emails. Understand what is going on right now, because the world just changed on your watch, and you weren't even paying attention."