What the Hackers Have Done to Hollywood Given it a reason to stick to 'more predictable fare' By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff Posted Dec 18, 2014 12:37 PM CST 104 comments Comments This image released by Columbia Pictures - Sony shows James Franco, left, and Seth Rogen in "The Interview." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures, Sony, Ed Araquel) (Newser) – We already know what Mitt Romney thinks Sony should do about The Interview (release it online for free). What do other people think? Pundits are weighing in: At the Verge, Bryan Bishop is with Romney, mostly. He wants to see it put online, stat. "Take the threat of attacking theaters and diffuse it with the truth that the hackers don’t seem to understand: we live in a world where every living room, every computer, and every phone is a theater," he writes. And while a free release would give Sony a much-needed reputation boost, he likes the idea of charging. As theaters, studios, and on-demand providers battle about the proper window between the theater and at-home release, it would be a "bold experiment." Why not "let audiences decide what they prefer?" At Gizmodo, Brian Barrett thinks the hackers won the battle—but maybe the war, too. "The Sony hackers have written the playbook for how to silence any disagreeable voice." It's bound to have Sony and other studios go after "safer stories" and make "smaller waves" (see Exhibit 1). "The worst part about letting the hackers win this time is that it means they'll keep winning, over and over, without even having to play." Of course, as Andrew O'Hehir points out on Salon, the Sony hackers' threat is so toothless it's gumless. "The odds that any individual multiplex in the exurbs of Cincinnati or San Antonio or Honolulu is going to be blown up by a coven of Pyongyang hackers make getting eaten by sharks and struck by lightning on the day you hit the lottery seem probable." But USC entertainment law lecturer Jonathan Handel tells Dennis Romero of LA Weekly that Sony and the theaters had no choice but to cancel, and points out that a "random copycat" could have inflicted the terror that O'Hehir is convinced North Korea can't. Romero's conclusion is much like Barrett's: "The problem now is that studios will undoubtedly factor the possibility of offending nations, terrorists and hacker groups into every movie pitch they green light, as if they need another reason to stick to predictable fare."