SEOUL, South Korea -- Months before Sony canceled the release of “The Interview,” AAFES had already decided against showing the movie depicting the assassination of Kim Jong Un in any of its theaters.
But unlike Sony Pictures Entertainment, which announced Wednesday that it was pulling the movie because of threats to target theaters, AAFES said it had decided not to show the film because others scheduled to be released around the same time are expected to have wider audience appeal.
“The decision was not related to political concerns about the content of the film,” Army and Air Force Exchange Service spokesman Chris Ward said in a statement to Stars and Stripes regarding the showing of the movie at its Pacific theaters.
The decision was made in September when AAFES confirmed other movies would be available, Ward said. AAFES has not received any command requests for the movie, he added.
The Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy had been scheduled for release in the U.S. on Christmas Day. The impending release had angered North Korea, where any criticism of dictator Kim Jong Un is considered virtual heresy. Pyongyang last summer called the production of the movie “an act of war.”
The movie was also considered politically sensitive in Japan and South Korea, which both fall within range of Pyongyang’s missiles.
In the past few weeks, hackers from the anonymous group Guardians of Peace have targeted Sony and released a number of embarrassing internal emails. Following threats against theaters that decide to show the movie, Sony announced Wednesday that it would pull the film.
U.S. investigators have linked the hacking and threats to North Korea and plan to release additional details in the future, according to an anonymous official cited by The Associated Press.
Had Sony not decided this week to pull the movie, service members stationed in the Pacific would not have been able to see it. Ward said Sony had decided not to release the movie in Asia.
First-run movies that will be shown at Exchange theaters outside the U.S. from Dec. 17-31 are “The Hobbit,” “Annie,” “Night at the Museum,” “Into the Woods,” and “Unbroken.”
At its theaters in the U.S., AAFES will show “Dumb and Dumber To” and “Beyond the Lights” the week of Dec. 19; and the “The Theory of Everything” and “Horrible Bosses 2” the week of Dec. 26.