Sunday, December 21, 2014

POSTED: Sunday, December 21, 2014, 1:10 PM
Filed Under: Movies
Despite the tens of millions of dollars in damage to the studio's business operations and threats of violence, the president said he wished that Sony had not canceled the Christmas release of "The Interview." (Reuters and Getty)
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - President Barack Obama told CNN that North Korea's hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment is an act of "cyber vandalism," not an act of war.

Despite the tens of millions of dollars in damage to the studio's business operations and threats of violence, the president said he wished that Sony had not canceled the Christmas release of "The Interview."

"If we set a precedent in which a dictator in another country can disrupt through cyber, a company's distribution chain or its products, and as a consequence we start censoring ourselves, that's a problem," Obama said in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday's "State of the Union."

POSTED: Friday, December 19, 2014, 12:18 PM
A security guard stands at the entrance of United Artists theater during the premiere of the film "The Interview" in Los Angeles, December 11, 2014. (REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - The FBI announced on Friday that North Korea was "responsible" for the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

"As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. Government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions," the bureau announced.

The FBI said it based its conclusion on "technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed. For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks."

POSTED: Friday, December 19, 2014, 11:40 AM
This photo provided by Columbia Pictures - Sony shows, from left, James Franco, as Dave, Lizzy Caplan as Lacey, and Seth Rogen, as Aaron, in Columbia Pictures' "The Interview." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures - Sony, Ed Araquel)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - The cyber-terrorists behind the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment sent a message to studio execs late Thursday giving them kudos for the "very wise" decision to not release the "The Interview" in any format, according to a report.

"Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy," the hackers said in a message sent to Sony brass, CNN reported Friday.

The missive, from the group calling itself "Guardians of Peace," also implied that additional data leaks would stop now that Sony has dropped plans to distribute the film, originally slated for Dec. 25 theatrical debut. The hackers warned the studio in the email that "we still have your private and sensitive data" and said they will "ensure the security of your data unless you make additional trouble," per CNN.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 5:25 PM
Filed Under: Movies
Dave (James Franco) and Aaron (Seth Rogen) in Columbia Pictures' "The Interview."

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - With theater chains defecting en masse, Sony Pictures Entertainment has pulled the planned Christmas release of "The Interview."

In announcing the decision to cancel the holiday debut, Sony hit back at the hackers who threatened movie theaters and moviegoers and who have terrorized the studio and its employees for weeks.

"Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale - all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like," the statement reads.



POSTED: Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 3:29 PM

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Regal Cinemas, Cinemark, Cineplex and AMC Entertainment will delay or drop "The Interview" after Sony Pictures Entertainment hackers posted a message threatening movie theaters and moviegoers who attend screenings of the satire. 

They represent four of the five largest chains, and join Bow Tie Cinemas and Carmike in deciding not to show the picture. More theater circuits are expected to follow suit.

In addition, Michigan-based MJR Digital Cinemas said it will likely not play the picture, although CEO Michael Mihalich said that could change if the situation improves in coming days.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 12:14 PM
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Jackie Chan attends a photocall to introduce a special screening of 'Chinese Zodiac' at BFI Southbank on August 12, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - HONG KONG -- A cinematographer was killed on Wednesday in Hong Kong during the filming of Jackie Chan-starring film "Skiptrace."

Chan Kwok-hung is understood to have drowned in an accident that occurred when a boat he was on capsized off Lantau Island. According to the South China Morning Post, it is understood to have happened around 3am local time.

Seven other film crew were on board, but they managed to swim the 30 meters to shore. Neither Jackie Chan nor co-star Fan Bingbing are believed to have been on board at the time.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 9:12 AM
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 14: Actress Tessa Thompson attends the 'Selma' New York Premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on December 14, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "Dear White People" and "Selma" star Tessa Thompson has come on board MGM's boxing drama "Creed" opposite Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan.

Ryan Coogler ("Fruitvale Station") is directing from a script he co-wrote with Aaron Covington. Stallone will bring back his Rocky Balboa character as a trainer for the grandson of Apollo Creed, portrayed by Carl Weathers in 1976's "Rocky." 

Producers are Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff, Stallone and Kevin King.

POSTED: Tuesday, December 16, 2014, 3:42 PM
Director Peter Jackson attends the premiere of New Line Cinema, MGM Pictures And Warner Bros. Pictures' "The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies" at Dolby Theatre on December 9, 2014. (Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - The Dec. 17 debut of "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" marks both an end and a beginning for Peter Jackson.

It represents the culmination of his 16-year, six-film J.R.R. Tolkien marathon -- an outsized success in duration, execution, visual-effects wizardry and overall popularity. No director in history has maintained tighter control over the creative direction of a global film franchise, which so far has amassed close to $5 billion in ticket sales alone.

But after bringing his Middle-earth spectacles to the masses, the world's most famous Kiwi is ready to downsize and return to his low-budget roots: The 53-year-old director-producer-screenwriter is working on adapting several true stories about his native country, with his longtime partner Fran Walsh, that he says will be similar in tone and scope to his 1994 murder tale, "Heavenly Creatures."

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Consider our Movies blog your essential guide to new movies and classics, interviews with filmmakers and stars, news and views on the latest screen trends, reviews and the occasional rant.

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