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Film — past, present and future
The 'Interview' controversy highlights Sony's Amy anomaly

As Sony made the decision Wednesday to scrap the Dec. 25 release of “The Interview,” casual observers found themselves asking some logical, how-could-this-happen questions. A broad, benign Seth Rogen comedy causes an international incident that threatens to bring down one of the world's biggest entertainment conglomerates, and throws Hollywood into crisis besides? It's a turn of events you'd almost expect in a Seth Rogen comedy.

But those who’ve been following the studio and its films had a slightly different reaction: Things like this seem to happen a little more often to Sony.

This is not the first time the studio has been caught in a political firestorm over a holiday release. Two years ago, Sony seemed to be on a smooth Oscar course with its Osama bin Laden assassination story “Zero Dark Thirty” — critical love, awards nominations — when a host of Democratic politicians led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.) seized the opportunity to decry “Zero Dark's” suggestion that torture...

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Judd Apatow: Pulling 'Interview' points to 'dark future' in Hollywood

When Seth Rogen's film "The Interview" had its Christmas Day theatrical release canceled Wednesday, incensed movie fans rushed to social media to voice their disappointment. But one corner of the Twittersphere remained conspicuously quiet: Hollywood.

One of the few industry voices who spoke out early -- and loudly -- was filmmaker Judd Apatow, who sent off a fiery string of tweets calling the move to pull the film “disgraceful.” Apatow, of course, is no stranger to raunchy comedy, having directed R-rated films such as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up.” He’s also close to Rogen, whom he discovered back in 1999 when he cast the actor in his television show “Freaks and Geeks.”

We spoke to Apatow on Wednesday afternoon to get his take on the Sony fallout.

Judging by your tweets, you disagree with exhibitors’ decision to pull “The Interview.”

I think every business has the right to do whatever they want, but when -- en masse -- all of these businesses decide not to present a movie,...

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'Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' a flawed finale, reviews say

"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" marks the end of a long journey for Bilbo Baggins — and the end (presumably) of an even longer journey for "Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson, who has spent six films in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien.

According to reviews, "Five Armies" is a flawed but fitting finale to the "Hobbit" trilogy, sharing many of its predecessors' faults but also wrapping things up with some rousing spectacle.

The Times' Betsy Sharkey is among the critics who say the film is unwieldy. She writes, "Five armies are too many. Within minutes of the first assault, 'The Hobbit' battlefield begins to look like an out-of-control Comic-Con after-party. As orcs, wargs, bats, elves, dwarfs, eagles and Lake-town citizens go at each other, you have to wonder who is doing the math." She adds that "the title of the film could just as easily have been 'The Hobbit: The Indecision of the Five Endings.'"

On the other hand, Sharkey says, "The finale is not an...

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New York premiere of 'The Interview' canceled amid hack threats

A New York premiere to celebrate the release of Sony Pictures' "The Interview" was canceled late Tuesday, hours after a hacking group sent a threatening message warning moviegoers to stay away from the event.

The film, a raunchy comedy about the attempted assasination of North Korean president Kim Jong Un, was set to debut at Manhattan's Sunshine Cinema on Thursday evening.

But a spokesperson for Landmark Theatres, which owns the venue, advised that the company had nixed the premiere.

While Landmark did not offer any further explanation for the cancellation, it came on the heels of new threats from Guardians of Peace, the hacking group purportedly behind this month's massive Sony cyber attack.

In an e-mail sent to The Times and other journalists on Thursday, the group cautioned people to stay away from theaters showing "The Interview" and made reference to 9/11.

"Remember the 11th of September 2001," the message said. "We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that...

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Why Sony's Steve Jobs movie fell apart

At the end of October, Christian Bale decided not to take on the role of Steve Jobs. For at least several weeks, he had been attached to a biopic that Sony was developing with writer Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle. But despite liking both mens' vision for the film, Bale couldn't get a fix on the part, according to his agent, and communicated that he was opting out.

Bale’s choice shouldn’t have been fatal. Though the Oscar winner came with plenty of bona fides, the Jobs picture has long been a priority for Sony, and there were presumably plenty of top actors who craved this kind of juicy role. This should have been an easy fix.

Yet barely three weeks later, producer Scott Rudin and Sony chief Amy Pascal, who have known each other and worked together for decades, had come to a kind of virtual fisticuffs. In a widely publicized email, Pascal urgently queried “why are u punishing me?” as Rudin took the film to Universal, saying she had acted "abominably."

What happened in that short...

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Before Sony hacking, Seth Rogen was sure North Korea threat was bogus

In an interview with The Times the week before a devastating cyberattack on Sony Pictures came to light, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, co-directors of the upcoming comedy "The Interview," seemed fairly cavalier about the possibility that North Korea could take serious action in response to the film.

Blustering official protests from the regime in Pyongyang, sure – those were a predictable response to a movie centered on a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But at the time, any serious threat – especially over a silly, over-the-top comedy from the duo behind such movies as "Superbad," "Pineapple Express" and "This Is the End" – seemed inconceivable.

"When they say, 'We declare war on this movie' and all that, nothing is for us," Goldberg said. "It's all for their people to see."

"It's all for show," Rogen agreed. "It's all a presentation. They do have nukes and we were told that they may even escalate to military exercises and reallocation of troops, but that’s as far...

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