Don’t mess with North Korea. That seems to be the takeaway from the Sony Pictures hacking scandal, which has resulted in the leaks online of at least five upcoming films, including “Annie;” the salaries of 17 Sony studio execs; code names of celebrities when they travel; Social Security numbers of thousands of current and former employees; and, most recently, embarrassing private emails between producer Scott Rudin and Sony co-chair Amy Pascal about the movie “Jobs” and Angelina Jolie’s “Cleopatra.”
Earlier this year, Rudin and Pascal argued in emails, now leaked by hackers, over who was going to tell Jolie that she couldn't have David Fincher as the director of “Cleopatra,” the film she wanted to star in, because they needed him for the Steve Jobs biopic “Jobs.”
“I’m not remotely interested in presiding over a $180M ego bath that we both know will be the career-defining debacle for both of us,” Rudin wrote Pascal about the Cleopatra film. “I’m not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat who thought nothing of shoving this off her plate for eighteen months so she could go direct a movie.”
The emails also reveal the chaos behind the "Jobs" movie, including the execs begging Leonardo DiCaprio to play Jobs, which he turned down, and an email from producer Michael De Luca in which he writes about potential “Jobs” star Michael Fassbender in "Shame," which features nude scenes. “ 'Shame' just makes you feel bad to have normal sized male genitalia…” he writes. "Jobs" eventually moved to Universal.
But Sony can’t say it wasn’t warned: According to anonymous sources close to the situation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned Sony that the studio's comedy “The Interview,” starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as men sent to North Korea by the CIA to assassinate leader Kim Jong Un, could provoke retaliation from the so-called Hermit Kingdom, said the Los Angeles Times. And although there were discussions among studio execs, Sony decided to go through with the film, which is slated for a Christmas Day release.
Spokespeople for both the Department of Homeland Security and Sony deny there was ever a warning.
Guardian of Peace hackers, who take credit for the attack, had warned the studio not to release “The Interview” over two weeks ago, and posted a message on GitHub, stating in part: “[S]top immediately showing the movie of terrorism which can break the regional peace and cause the War! You, Sony & FBI cannot find us…The destiny of Sony is totally up to the wise reaction & measure of Sony.”
Even actor Jonah Hill, Rogen’s friend who attended the alleged Sony meeting contemplating the Homeland Security warning, spoke with chairman Amy Pascal and couldn’t believe Sony let the project go forward, according to the LA Times report. “It’s pretty amazing what they let us do,” said Rogen. “I don’t know who else would let us do it.”
Pascal may be regretting that decision.
In addition to having its dirty laundry aired publicly, Sony is facing a financial fallout. Experts estimate that the cyberattack against Sony, which began before Thanksgiving, could end up costing the studio $70 million to $100 million, reports Yahoo.