North Korea Blames United States for 'The Interview' Release, Internet Outages

Despite scaled-back release, the controversial comedy still brings in $1 million at the box office on Christmas Day

The Interview' at the Plaza Theater on Christmas Day, December 25, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Credit: Moses Robinson/WireImage

As the scaled-back release of The Interview packed over 300 indie movie theaters this Christmas, the film continues to fuel a diplomatic schism between North Korea and the United States. "The prevailing situation clearly shows that the U.S. is adding to its crimes by screening the movie The Interview," a military spokesperson for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said in a statement. "With no rhetoric can the U.S. justify the screening and distribution of the movie."

"Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest," North Korea's National Defense Commission (NDC) continued, adding that President Obama "is the chief culprit who forced the Sony Pictures Entertainment to indiscriminately distribute" The Interview, a film that is "hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK and agitating terrorism," the BBC reports.

The New York Times adds that the NDC also blamed the Internet and mobile phone network problems plaguing North Korea recently on the United States. "The U.S., a big country, started disturbing the Internet operation of major media of the DPRK, not knowing shame like children playing tag," the NDC said. It's unclear whether those outages are the "appropriate and proportionate" response President Barack Obama promised following the cyber attack on Sony perpetrated by a hacker group dubbed Guardians of Peace. The White House National Security Council declined comment to the Times

Despite an unprecedented, last-minute release that found The Interview heading to both indie cinemas and digital outlets like YouTube and Google Play, The Interview still took in $1 million at the box office on Christmas Day, although that figure is culled from just over 300 theaters according to The Hollywood Reporter. By comparison, top-earner Unbroken made $15.6 million on Christmas Day but was shown on over 3,100 screens. The following day, The Interview earned another $725,000 at the box office.

"Considering the incredibly challenging circumstances, we are extremely grateful to the people all over the country who came out to experience The Interview on the first day of its unconventional release," said Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer. The VOD numbers have not yet been revealed. The larger theater chains have refused to show The Interview, first after hackers issued terrorist threats against the cinemas playing the film, and then to protest The Interview going straight to VOD.

Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg, the team behind The Interview, both visited Los Angeles' Cinefamily before their film screened there on Christmas. "If it wasn't for theaters like this and people like you guys, this literally would not be fucking happening right now," Rogen told the audience.