The Interview not opening in Singapore
Singapore will not be in on the joke that is Seth Rogen and James Franco's latest comedy The Interview.
Written and directed by US actor Rogen, the politically incorrect flick was said to be the main trigger of the hack attack at Sony Pictures Entertainment that began on Nov 24 - simply because it revolves around two reporters (Rogen and Franco) tasked by the CIA with assassinating North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un (Randall Park).
Reviews of The Interview, which opens in the US on Dec 25, are mixed, but we will not be able to judge it for ourselves. It will not be released in Singapore or the rest of Asia, according to the film's website.
Sony Pictures Releasing International Singapore declined to comment if it is due to the hacking, commercial viability or sensitivities.
But The Interview was not included in its line-up of releases as of September, and that was way before the hacking scandal erupted.
Rogen's comedies tend to be controversial, and some are considered too niche or sensitive to be a hit at the local box office despite his clout in Hollywood.
His directorial debut, the disaster comedy This Is The End (2013), which saw Rogen, Franco, Jonah Hill and Jay Baruchel facing the apocalypse after a wild night, did not get a local release despite it being a box-office hit in the US.
The 2008 stoner comedy Pineapple Express, starring Rogen and Franco as marijuana smokers, did not get a theatrical release here either.
As for The Interview, it features a prominent Asian leader meeting a decidedly bad end.
Too close to home, perhaps?
After all, Ben Stiller's 2001 comedy Zoolander was initially denied a release date here because it included a reference to the then-Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as a target for assassination.
Zoolander was subsequently released in theatres under an NC16 rating in 2006.
Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan released a statement last week that The Interview will not be shown in Japan.
No reasons were given, though it said the decision had been made "some time ago", well before the hacking.
According to Variety magazine, such comedies rarely do well in the Japanese market, with none last year passing the 1 billion yen (S$11 million) box-office mark traditionally considered the measure of a commercial hit.
Back in June, when The Interview was in the post-production stage, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) of North Korea declared it "an act of war".
The KCNA also promised that it would retaliate strongly if The Interview was ever released.
In August, Mr Kazuo Hirai, the chief executive of Sony's parent company, Japan's Sony Corporation, personally intervened and called for an edit as he was dissatisfied with a scene in the film. Rogen reluctantly obliged.
Despite the threats and obstacles, The Interview went ahead with its Los Angeles premiere, though it was a low-key affair, with the studio banning broadcast media from the red carpet.
Rogen, 32, and Franco, 36, were not made available to reporters either.
But this appears to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Guardians Of Peace, the group that US authorities believe to be from North Korea which hacked into Sony Pictures' computer system, has promised a big "Christmas gift" (read: more damning information) to coincide with The Interview's Christmas Day release date in the States.
Regardless, Rogen publicly displayed his gratitude towards Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal, proclaiming at the premiere that she "has the balls to make this movie".
ANGELINA JOLIE: 'SPOILED BRAT'
She is the biggest name to be ripped so far.
Producer Scott Rudin had pressured Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal to shelve Jolie's Cleopatra over his Steve Jobs biopic.
He wrote: "There is no movie of Cleopatra to be made (and how that is a bad thing given the insanity and rampaging spoiled ego of this woman and the cost of the movie is beyond me) and if you won't tell her that you do not like the script - which, let me remind you, SHE DOESN'T EITHER - this will just spin even further out in Crazyland, but let me tell you I have zero appetite for the indulgence of spoiled brats and I will tell her this myself if you don't."
Rudin also called Jolie's project a US$180 million (S$235 million) "ego bath that we both know will be the career-defining debacle for us both".
He wrote: "I'm not destroying my career over a minimally-talented spoiled brat who thought nothing of shoving this off her plate for 18 months so she could go direct a movie. She's a camp event and a celebrity and that's all and the last thing anybody needs is to make a giant bomb with her that any fool could see coming."
KEVIN HART: 'WHORE'
The e-mail chain about the US comedian-actor revolved around his manager's request that Hart get extra money for promoting his films on social media.
But Sony executives thought that was a terrible precedent to set for other actors. One wrote: "I'm not saying he's a whore, but he's a whore."
Hart defended himself on Instagram: "Knowing your self-worth is extremely important, people. I worked very hard to get where I am today. I look at myself as a brand and because of that I will never allow myself to be (taken) advantage of. I OWN MY BRAND... I MAKE SMART DECISIONS FOR MY BRAND... I PROTECT MY BRAND."
After the scandal, the press junket with Hart for his new Sony Screen Gems movie, The Wedding Ringer, was postponed.
ADAM SANDLER: 'MUNDANE'
"There is a general 'blah-ness' to the films we produce," complained one Sony employee to higher-ups, specifically about the US actor-comedian's string of slapstick fare under Sony.
"Although we manage to produce an innovative film once in a while, The Social Network, Moneyball, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, we continue to be saddled with the mundane, formulaic Adam Sandler films."
LEONARDO DICAPRIO: 'DESPICABLE'
When told that the US actor decided to pull out of the titular role in Jobs, producer Mark Gordon called it "horrible behaviour", which Pascal corrected to: "Actually despicable."
MICHAEL FASSBENDER: 'WHO IS HE? WE DON'T CARE'
E-mails between scriptwriter Aaron Sorkin, Rudin and Pascal were sent as a result of a suggestion that the German-Irish actor play the role of Steve Jobs in Jobs, when Sorkin reportedly wanted A-lister Tom Cruise to helm it.
He snarked: "This used to be an event. I don't know who Michael Fassbender is and the rest of the world isn't going to care."
JADEN AND WILLOW SMITH: 'CRAZY?'
Tom Rothman, chairman of TriStar Productions, a new joint venture with Sony Pictures, e-mailed Pascal a link to a now-infamous interview which Hollywood couple Will and Jada Pinkett Smith's children gave T Magazine.
In it, the teens talk about controlling time, Prana energy and how they are too cool for (public) school.
Poking fun at their loopy remarks, Rothman wrote: "1. Read this. 2. They r home schooled: don't let this family date your movies!!!"
There is no movie of Cleopatra to be made (and how that is a bad thing given the insanity and rampaging spoiled ego of this woman and the cost of the movie is beyond me)...
- Producer Scott Rudin, who was pressuring Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal to shelve Angelina Jolie's Cleopatra over his Steve Jobs biopic
Hollywood may make up but we can't
The pen is mightier than the sword.
Or in the case of the Sony hack attack, the keyboard could be the weapon that burns bridges.
While a worker ant like me may not be in possession of e-mail that anyone would ever be interested in hacking, the Sony scandal does pose questions of what we should and should not put in "print".
The vicious industry- and celebrity-bashing from Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal and Hollywood producer Scott Rudin have made them Tinseltown's public enemies.
Nothing is a secret, especially when it comes to bitching about people whom you smile at every day. Yes, even when you think the medium you choose is supposed to be "private".
Karma is the real bitch.
It is anyone's guess if offended celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio or Angelina Jolie will ever work again under Sony Pictures.
Sure, there could be repercussions for Sony's future business dealings with their stars, not to mention awkward run-ins, particularly when awards season is heating up in Hollywood.
For instance, Jolie continued to rub elbows with Pascal at the recent The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment Power 100 Breakfast shortly after the world learnt that she was labelled a "spoiled brat" in one particularly cutting e-mail flying between Pascal and Rudin.
But nothing in Hollywood is permanent, and relationships can be mended - at least on the surface - for the sake of the mighty box office.
For us mere mortals though, a nasty e-mail sent to a wrong recipient may have a disastrous, irreparable effect.
So the next time you have the urge to mouth off against your boss, client or colleague in cyberspace, think again.
Perhaps it is better to use the good old-fashioned telephone instead.
Then again, phone lines can be hacked too, as we learnt from the not-too-distant News Of The World phone-hacking scandal.
Invisible ink, anyone?