The end of 2014 turned into an insane battle at the box office for Sony Pictures as their comedy The Interview came under fire from unseen forces. The comedy, which was written and directed by Superbad duo Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, and starred Rogen and James Franco, was positioned to be one of Sony's big holiday releases. But the movie caused quite a bit of controversy, and was pulled from it's initial theatrical release. Looking back on it a year and a half later, all Seth Rogen can do is call it a miserable experience.
James Franco starred in the movie as dimwitted celebrity interviewer Dave Skylark, with Rogen playing his intrepid producer Aaron Rapaport. The duo land the interview of a lifetime when they are invited to North Korea to chat with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Skylark and Rapaport are soon contacted by the CIA, and tasked with assassinating the real-life world leader playing in the movie by Randall Park. The movie is a silly, raunchy adventure that just happens to have the death of a very real political leader at the center of it. But that premise struck a nerve in various parties around the global, especially North Korea itself.
Some individuals claimed that the movie was a declaration of War. And not a joke. As the movie's premiere loomed closer and closer, there were multiple terrorist threats agains Sony, warning that they should not screen the movie in theaters, or there would be consequences. Most major chains pulled out, but several independent theaters around the country decided to show it. The movie got a very limited release, and wound up going to VOD in the weeks that following, completely abandoning any kind of normal distribution for such a big Hollywood tentpole release. It was a crazy situation, one that we haven't really heard anyone directly involved in talk about. But now, Seth Rogen has opened up about the whole ordeal, telling The Graham Norton Show that it was not fun. But he is able to look back and laugh. The actor-director says this.
"It was a horrible experience, yes. It's bad to be blamed for almost starting a war. It's not fun; it's super weird...I had personal security, and then one day they just went away. I was like, 'I guess I'm safe now.' The studio provided the filmmakers with security in case someone from North Korea was gonna kill us, I guess. And then literally, one day, they were just gone... the studio just didn't want to pay for security any more."
It's hard to say that the filmmakers didn't have any ill will towards North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, but they did make a movie about killing him, after all. The movie was met with mixed reviews. And once people saw it, they wondered how anyone could possibly take the movie as a serious threat of war. Sony lost quite a bit of money on The Interview. It only pulled in $6.1 million in the states, taking another $5.2 million overseas for a weak worldwide total of just $11.3 million. The budget was reportedly around $42-44 million. The studio did make some of their cash back with the online, Blu-ray and DVD release.
All parties have since moved on to bigger and better things. This summer, The Interview directors have Preacher coming to AMC. And they will release their animated Pixar spoof Sausage Party in August. Seth Rogen will next be seen starring in the comedy sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, which arrives in just a few weeks. You can watch Rogen's entire interview in the youtube clip below.