In a press conference on Friday, President Barack Obama said Sony "made a mistake" pulling The Interview amid threats of terrorism.
Only hours after the FBI confirmed that North Korea was behind the cyber attack, Obama said that while he was sympathetic with Sony's concerns, he didn't think they should cancel the film's theatrical release, which was scheduled for Christmas.
"We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship on the United States," Obama said. "If somebody is able to intimidate someone from releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing if they see a documentary they don't like or news reports they don't like. Or even worse, if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don't offend the sensibilities of people who need to be offended."
In fact, self-censorship has already begun. Shortly after The Interview's release was canceled, plans for a Steve Carell film set in North Korea were scrapped by New Regency.
Obama never went so far as to confirm he was going to make the symbolic gesture of watching The Interview, but he did point out the absurdity of the situation. "I think it says something interesting about North Korea that they decided to have the state mount an all-out assault on a movie studio because of a satirical movie starring Seth Rogen and James Flacco," Obama said, misnaming the film's star James Franco. "I love Seth and I love James. But the notion that that was a threat to them, I think, gives you some sense of the kind of regime we're talking about.
"They caused a lot of damage and we will respond. We will respond proportionally and we will respond in a place and time and manner that we choose," Obama declared.
Sony CEO Michael Lynton responded to Obama's remarks on CNN, saying, "We have not caved. We have not given in. We have persevered, and we have not backed down. We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie."
Lynton stuck by the story that Sony had little choice but to cancel The Interview's theatrical release after major theater chains refused to show the film.
"The unfortunate part is... the president, the press, and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened," he continued. "We do not own movie theaters. We cannot decide what is played in movie theaters."
Lynton's full interview will air on CNN's AC360 Friday at 8/7c.
Watch Obama's press conference below. What do you think of his comments?