“Pyongyang” stars actor Steve Carell, who plays an American cartoonist accused of espionage in North Korea. The film was expected to begin production in March, but the Los Angeles-based entertainment company New Regency claimed Twentieth Century Fox “reneged” on their distribution agreement.
The movie has been shelved until further notice. Director Gore Verbinski, who won an Oscar for the film Rango, released a statement in response to the cancellation that was confirmed on Monday.
“Yesterday, I was told by New Regency and Fox that Fox will no longer be distributing the film. Prior to that, the film was green lit and fully funded by New Regency with Fox distributing. I have been told in no uncertain words that based on the situation at Sony, Fox has now decided to not distribute the film. Without a distributor, New Regency was forced to shut the film down.”
Fox has not prevented the film to be produced in another studio. Yet, so far, there have no takers.
“I find it ironic that fear is eliminating the possibility to tell stories that depict our ability to overcome fear,” said Verbinski.
— Steve Carell (@SteveCarell) December 17, 2014
While Verbinski will likely move on two other projects in the works, critics say the agitation over Sony’s cancellation of “The Interview” has set a dangerous precedent for future Hollywood films.
A day after Sony cancelled, Paramount Pictures banned three movie theaters from screening another film “Team America: World Police,” which features a North Korean Leader.
American novelist, screenwriter and television producer George R.R. Martin wrote in a blog post that success of “The Interview” is irrelevant in this case.
“It might be hilarious. It might be stupid and offensive and outrageous. (Actually, I am pretty sure about the ‘outrageous’ part). It might be all of the above,” Martin wrote. “That’s not the point though – it astonishes me that a major Hollywood film could be killed before release by threats from a foreign power and anonymous hackers.”
Actor George Clooney started a petition to support screening of the “The Interview.” But, he then claimed, many “Top Hollywood” names refused to sign because they were afraid of being targeted as well.
“This is just where we are right now, how scared the industry has been made,” he told the Magazine Deadline.