Game of Thrones author offers to screen The Interview
George RR Martin has offered to screen The Interview at his independent cinema in New Mexico - after several theatre chains declined to show the Sony Pictures film in response to a cyber-attack thought to have been carried out by North Korea.
The Game of Thrones author expressed his astonishment at the "surreal" decision to can the movie after US intelligence officers connected the Hermit Kingdom to the attack, describing it as an act of "corporate cowardice". "I mean, really? REALLY??," Martin wrote on his Not A Blog live journal.
"These gigantic corporations, most of which could buy North Korea with pocket change, are declining to show a film because Kim Jong-Un objects to being mocked?
"The level of corporate cowardice here astonishes me. It's a good thing these guys weren't around when Charlie Chaplin made The Great Dictator.
If Kim Jong-Un scares them, Adolf Hitler would have had them sh**ting in their smallclothes."
The fantasy writer also had plenty to say about Sony, which cancelled the Christmas Day release of the movie following the reaction. The official trailer for the film, based around a plan to assassinate dictator Jong-Un, has also been removed from YouTube.
Martin wrote: "There are thousands of small independent theatres across the country, like my own, that would gladly screen The Interview, regardless of the threats from North Korea, but instead of shifting the film to those venues, Sony has cancelled its scheduled Christmas rollout entirely.
He said that although he hadn't seen The Interview, "it astonishes me that a major Hollywood film could be killed before release by threats from a foreign power and anonymous hackers".
On Tuesday the hackers threatened to target cinemas that showed the film in a 9/11 style attack. But Martin said he was not deterred by the menacing warnings and invited Sony to show the film at his Santa Fe theatre.
He concluded: "For what it's worth, the Jean Cocteau Cinema will be glad to screen The Interview (assuming that Sony does eventually release the film for theatrical exhibition, rather than streaming it or dumping it as a direct-to-DVD release), should it be made available to us. Come to Santa Fe, Seth, we'll show your film for you."
The White House has declined to comment publicly on North Korea's potential involvement in the hacking, which also saw a series of embarrassing email threads between Sony co-chairperson Amy Pascal and movie producer Scott Rudin leaked.
However, Evans Revere, former State Department official and specialist on Korea, said if US officials connect North Korea not only to the hacking attack but the threats to carry out attacks against movie theatres, a case could be made to put North Korea again on a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
That designation now is held by Iran, Sudan, Syria and Cuba. North Korea was on the list for 20 years until it was taken off in 2008 by the Bush administration during nuclear negotiations.
While North Korea has denied it was involved, its government issued a statement earlier this month describing the hack as a "righteous deed".