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, they’re basically setting themselves up for other people to threaten them. What do they do when someone says the same thing about the James Bond movie or “Annie”? There may be credible evidence of imminent violence that I don’t know about. But if they don’t really have that information, how many movies are they willing not to release? Our community is based on freedom of expression. Are we going to suppress ourselves every time someone posts something online? It’s a dark future.
So you think this will have a chilling effect on the creative community?
You don’t see many political movies as it is. The age of the 1970s politically minded film is pretty much over. Comedians attack power and corruption and things that feel wrong. Seth picked a very valid target to make a hilariously funny movie. I’ve seen the movie. It’s fantastic.
Do you think it ever went too far?
I just thought it was very funny and daring. Are we now living in a world where we’re not allowed to say that these are bad people? Are we not allowed to make a movie where ISIS is the bad guy now? That’s been happening since Charlie Chaplin made “The [Great] Dictator.” There’s so much political correctness that there’s almost no villains left. And who knows who the villain is in this case. It could just be a couple of guys in their room in West Covina.
Have you spoken to Seth since this week?
Yes, and he’s very thoughtful and concerned. I’m sure it’s a very bizarre situation to find yourself in. His only intention on this planet is to make people smile. I know they all feel horrible that any of this has happened.
How do you think Sony should release the film now?
I don’t know how you release it. I’m not interested in the business side. Everyone who wants to see it is going to see it. The movie is going to get out there. It will be on BitTorrent in six weeks. Clearly, this was meant to hurt Sony financially.
A lot of filmmakers and actors are offended by the way Sony executives conducted themselves in the leaked e-mails.
I think that’s just how people communicate. All negotiating is a game of chicken. Everyone is insulted, and at the end of the day we figure it out and we’re friends. The e-mails couldn’t be less interesting. I assume when I’m in the middle of a negotiation that the e-mails aren’t positive, and as soon as the negotiation is done, they get positive again. I think most people in show business understand that’s how it works.
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