Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton pushed back against President Obama’s claim that his company “made a mistake” by pulling a movie after a devastating cyberattack by North Korea, claiming the White House is “mistaken as to what actually happened.”
Sony endured a strong lecture from Obama during his year-end press briefing on Friday, with the president saying he wished the company had spoken to him before pulling The Interview, a dark comedy depicting the fictional assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
Lynton, however, said Sony repeatedly spoke to the White House throughout the crisis. “I personally did reach out and speak to senior folks at the White House . . . and inform them that we needed help,” he said. “We definitely spoke to senior advisors in the White House to talk about the situation . . . The White House was certainly aware of the situation.”
“The unfortunate part is, in this instance, the president, the press, and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened,” Lynton explained. “We do not own movie theaters. We cannot determine whether or not a movie plays in movie theaters.”
The CEO noted that Sony “persevered for three and a half weeks under enormous stress,” before a terrorist threat from the hackers pushed movie theaters themselves to drop the film.
“At that point in time, we had no alternative but to not proceed with the theatrical release on the 25th of December,” he said. “We have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered and we have not backed down. We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie.”