What the Sony hacks mean for the entertainment industry

Global Business

Security cameras stand across the street on Culver Boulevard from the Sony Pictures Studios’ water tank in Culver City, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014.

Sony’s decision to cancel “The Interview” in the face of terrorist threats is already affecting the way Hollywood does business. It has outraged artists, killing their faith in studios to release edgy content. But it’s also inspired a rare hush across a usually chatty industry as everyone from moguls to makeup artists takes stock of the scandal and how it could affect their jobs.

Actors, filmmakers, politicians and pundits roundly denounced Sony’s decision on Wednesday to nix “The Interview” in response to theater owners’ refusal to show the Christmas release in light of threats invoking 9/11. But after venting on social media, Hollywood mostly went quiet.

Gore Verbinski said Wednesday that Fox pulled out of plans to support his Democratic People’s Republic of Korea-set thriller, but his representative didn’t respond to inquiries Thursday. Theaters that arranged to screen 2004’s “Team America: World Police” in place of “The Interview” announced Thursday those showings had been canceled, but the studio behind the film, Paramount, declined to comment.

“The Interview” stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists tasked by the CIA with killing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is shown dying in a fiery explosion.

“Sad day for creative expression,” Steve Carell tweeted after its release was canceled. Jimmy Kimmel described the move as “an un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent.”

As if the industry needed more reasons to drive people out of theaters. This action comes as Hollywood is already struggling against the lure of top-notch home entertainment systems amid rising ticket costs, notes Todd Boyd, film and culture professor at the University of Southern California.

Amplifying this challenge, artists could increasingly turn to the web as a way to distribute content without studio interference. Lizz Winstead, a creator of “The Daily Show,” suggested the creative community may have to go even further.

“Do performers and artists need to start buying theaters so we aren’t beholden to the multiplexes now?” she asked. “I feel like if this is the message from the studios, what is going to be the action for all of us who see how profoundly we can all just be cut off at the knees.”

Entertainment consultant Kathryn Arnold discusses Sony hacks

CCTV interviewed entertainment consultant Kathryn Arnold about the impacts of the Sony hacks.

Story compiled from CCTV America and AP reports.