In Defense of Sony

Sony has come under fire in recent days for their decision to pull the release of their new move the Interview with James Franco and Seth Rogen. The movie inspired the nation of North Korea to commit an act of war by hacking and releasing sensitive information from Sony. It can be called an “act of war” because the attack will cost Sony (and the USA) millions of dollars hurting an already sluggish US economy. Terrorists seemingly allied (and likely supported) by North Korea also threatened to commit 9/11 style terrorist attacks on any US theater showing the Interview which was set to release on Christmas Day.

In the wake of the hack and the terrorist threats, most of the movie theater chains in the USA chose to cancel their viewings of the Interview. Following those decisions, Sony chose to cancel the release of the movie altogether, leading many pundits, actors, comedians, journalists, politicians (including President Obama) and others to attack Sony for some perceived cowardice.

Following Sony’s decision to pull the James Franco-Seth Rogan movie after hackers working for North Korean threatened violence, President Obama criticized the studio for being “intimidated by these kind of criminal attacks.’’

Should the movie theaters and, more importantly, Sony, face criticism for bowing to pressure from terrorists and North Korea? Probably. However, I want to offer a defense of sorts, for Sony.

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the interviewAfter the majority of theaters around the country had decided not to show the movie, Sony was in a tough spot. Because of the theatres backing out, it would now be almost impossible for Sony to recoup the money they spent on making the movie. Now, Sony had two choices – release the movie Christmas Day and lose money (but stand up to the terrorists) or hold on to the movie and hope to release it (profitably) in the near future.

Both options have positives and negatives.

The positive for releasing the movie was that Sony would show the North Korean terrorists that American companies would not be cowed by their threats. The negative, Sony would almost certainly lose A LOT of money.

The positive for not releasing the movie on time is to maintain the possibility of making money on it in the future. The negative would be bad publicity from seeming to give in to negative pressure from North Korea.

And here is the point…

Sony had already lost millions from the bad publicity and negative attention that came from North Korea’s hack of Sony’s internal systems. The possibility that they could lose many millions more by releasing the movie but having no theater to play it in must have seemed daunting. Sony is a company that is trying to be profitable and must make decisions with profit in mind… not politics. If Sony calculated the risks of both decisions and decided that not releasing the movie would be more profitable, then that is clearly the decision that they should have made. I can’t fault them for putting profit before politics.

But one more thing.

The terrorists threatened to bring 9/11 style attacks to any theater that chose to show the movie. With most theaters deciding not to show the movie, it would have left a small number of theaters still showing it. These few theaters showing the movie would make the threat of attack much easier, because the terrorists could focus in on a much smaller group of theaters. While any attack would not be Sony’s fault, they would forever be tied to any such incident.

Do you think any company wants to be thought of when we remember a terrorist attack?

The easier decision. The safer decision. The more profitable decision. Sony made the right decision for their company and their shareholders, and while we never want to show weakness in the face of terrorism, this wasn’t weakness, it was wisdom.

That’s just my two cents.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

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