One of the more surreal weeks to hit the movie industry in recent memory got even stranger Friday as the president of the United States of America spent part of his last press conference of the year giving a shout-out to Seth Rogen and James, er, "Flacco."
President Obama was discussing the FBI's formal announcement Friday morning blaming North Korea for the devastating cyberattack that has cost Sony Pictures Entertainment tens of millions of dollars.
Obama said the hackers "caused a lot of damage, and we will respond." But the commander in chief also said he thought Sony "made a mistake" in canceling the release of "The Interview," the satirical film starring Rogen and James, ahem, Franco that precipitated the hack attack.
While he had strong words for the studio, the president went easy on the comedic duo.
"I think it says something interesting about North Korea that they decided to have the state mount an all-out assault on a movie studio because of a satirical movie starring Seth Rogen and James Flacco," Obama said, mispronouncing Franco's last name to the delight of social media users.
"I love Seth, and I love James," he added.
Sony executives weren't exactly feeling the love, though, particularly in the wake of a message from the hackers that gloated over the studio's "very wise" decision to cancel "The Interview" and added, "Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy."
On Friday afternoon, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview, "We have not caved, we have not backed down." Shortly after, Sony issued a statement blaming theaters for canceling the release of "The Interview."
"The decision not to move forward with the December 25 theatrical release of 'The Interview' was made as a result of the majority of the nation's theater owners choosing not to screen the film," the statement said. "This was their decision."
Sony did leave the door open for "The Interview" to eventually see the light of day, whether in theaters or on another platform, such as VOD. The statement ended, "It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so."
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