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Sony responds to Obama's comments, says it had 'no choice'

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MICHAEL LYNTON
Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Responding to President Obama’s comments that the company made a “mistake” in pulling The Interview, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said that Sony has “not backed down” in an interview with CNN. The company also released a statement in which it said that it had “no choice” but to cancel the theatrical release after theaters decided not to screen it.

Lynton told Fareed Zakaria that he does not think Sony—the victim of a cyber attack that the FBI has officially concluded was ordered by the North Korean government—made a mistake in stopping the release of the film. “I think actually, the unfortunate part is, in this instance, the president, the press, and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened,” Lynton said. “We do not own movie theaters. We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters.” The CEO explained that after theaters said they would not play the movie, following a threat from hackers, Sony had “no alternative” but to cancel the Christmas release.

“We have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered and we have not backed down,” Lynton said. “We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie.”

Meanwhile, the company said in a statement, “It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so.” Speaking with CNN, Lynton said that no major VOD distributor no e-commerce site has said it is “willing to distribute this movie for us.” Sony has previously said it has “no further release plans” for the film.

Read Sony’s full statement below:

Sony Pictures Entertainment is and always has been strongly committed to the First Amendment.  For more than three weeks, despite brutal intrusions into our company and our employees’ personal lives, we maintained our focus on one goal:  getting the film The Interview released. Free expression should never be suppressed by threats and extortion.

The decision not to move forward with the December 25 theatrical release of The Interview was made as a result of the majority of the nation’s theater owners choosing not to screen the film. This was their decision.

Let us be clear – the only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theaters, after the theater owners declined to show it. Without theaters, we could not release it in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice. After that decision, we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform.  It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so.

CNN’s interview with Lynton will air both on Friday’s Anderson Cooper 360 and Sunday’s Fareed Zakaria GPS.