Paramount bans showings of Team America: World Police that had been programmed to replace planned screenings of the movie, which was scrapped on Wednesday by Sony. Team America: World Police is the 2004 satirical action comedy, written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, famously mocked Kim Jong-il, the father of current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, using live-action super marionettes. The film also derided the government of North Korea, as well as the liberal Hollywood establishment that catered to anti-American despots in what was a prescient satire. The film was supposed to be a debut release on Christmas that was a replacement of the movie The Interview.
Sony originally pulled next week’s planned release of satirical comedy The Interview, which features an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, following threats from North Korean-linked hackers. The decision to pull the film comes after a month-long release of information stolen by unknown hackers from Sony Pictures and a threat evoking 9/11 earlier this week by the same hackers that the group would attack theaters showing the film. Theaters around the country responded to that threat by saying they wouldn’t show the film. Working with Sony since the first days of the massive hack in late November, the FBI has established some degree of connection between North Korea and the data breach.
The Dallas/Fort worth Alamo Drafthouse Theater, The Plaza Atlanta Theater in Georgia and the Capital Theater in Ohio all have canceled screenings, according to statements posted on their Twitter accounts. Capital Theater, operated by Cleveland Cinemas, said in a tweet that the screening was “canceled by Paramount Pictures,” the studio that distributed the 2004 Trey Parker and Matt Stone film. Other than the famous multiplexes, many other multiple theaters have said that they have scrapped plans to screen Team America: World Police, which also depicts the authoritarian North Korea regime.
The cinema was to be decked out with American flags and tickets had quickly sold out. However, later the film was forcibly pulled out and the cinemas are issuing refunds to those that purchased ticket. Moreover, it’s not clear what precise concerns prompted the studio to pull the film. Paramount hasn’t claimed it’s received any specific threats related to the Team America screenings, nor has it given an explanation as to why it pulled out. Also, they did not immediately respond to any news controversies on why anyone would cancel a screening of a film that came out 10 years ago, made $50 million at the worldwide box office and is widely available for viewing at home.
It’s disappointing to hear that Paramount – a studio who hasn’t even been targeted – have bowed to the terrorist hacking demands. Meanwhile, evidence is mounting that perhaps North Korea itself is behind the Sony hacks and that the U.S. might officially point the finger later today. However, Team America: World Police is still available online, with active listings appearing on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon.