Sony Pictures has earned some partial redemption for its initial decision not to air The Interview. It took in $15 million in revenue during the film’s first four days of limited release in theaters and online.
But the bigger news is that we are starting to see just why North Korea was so freaked out about release of The Interview. According to Free North Korea Radio, a network run by defectors from the Communist regime, people inside the country are willing to pay almost $50 for a copy of the disrespectful comedy. That’s ten times the going rate for printed South Korean programs. For that reason, North Korean security forces are taking extra precautions against smuggling. Apparently, the wink-and-a bribe arrangement that has allowed some U.S. movies to cross the border has been temporarily suspended — at least at the higher levels of enforcement.
In fact, Rich Klein of the advisory firm McLarty Associates says that The Interview could become “a very real challenge to the ruling regime’s legitimacy.” He writes in the Washington Post:
“Think of the movie as Chernobyl for the digital age. Just as the nuclear catastrophe in the Soviet Union and the dangerously clumsy efforts to hide it exposed the Kremlin’s leadership as inept and morally bankrupt, overseeing a superpower rusting from the inside, so does The Interview risk eroding the myths, fabrications and bluster that keep the Kim dynasty in power.”
The potential power of The Interview is one reason that the New York–based Human Rights Foundation is partnering with North Korean defectors to attach DVD copies of the film to 33-foot-high hydrogen balloons that will float across the border with South Korea and land away from the militarized border zone.