Hollywood loves remakes and reboots — but the major studios are unlikely to take another stab at a movie about the North Korean government anytime soon.
American government officials concluded Wednesday that the regime of Kim Jong Un was behind the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment — a devastating breach that led the studio to nix plans to release "The Interview," a raunchy comedy that depicts the assassination of the eccentric despot.
The facts of the case — a dizzying drama involving cybercrime, security failures and Tinseltown gossip — may be unprecedented, but "The Interview" isn't the first Hollywood production that galled world leaders and angered foreign governments. Here are a few others:
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British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is no stranger to cross-continental controversy. "Borat," the 2006 mockumentary that mercilessly satirized Kazakhstan, rankled the government of that central Asian republic. The country's foreign ministry even threatened to sue Cohen, who played a dim-witted Kazakh journalist. But six years after the American release of the hit comedy, Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov said: "I am grateful to 'Borat' for helping attract tourists to Kazakhstan."
MGM got into hot water in 2010 after top Beijing newspapers learned that the studio planned to make Chinese militants the bad guys in its remake of the 1984 action flick, which pitted plucky American teens against the Soviets and Cubans. The Global Times newspaper took umbrage. The headlines read: "U.S. reshoots Cold War movie to demonize China" and "American movie plants hostile seeds against China." The studio, keen on staying afloat at the Chinese box office, ditched the Chinese villains and replaced them with ... yup, North Koreans.
Stanley Kubrick faced backlash for the brutal violence in classics like "A Clockwork Orange" and "The Shining." But this 1957 anti-war drama about four French soldiers executed after refusing to carry out a suicide mission set off a diplomatic kerfuffle. The French government was infuriated by the negative presentation of its military brass. It reportedly put big pressure on the European distributor, via diplomatic channels, to keep the film out of theaters. "Paths of Glory" wasn't shown in France until 1975.
"The Interview" has been compared to this crude and crass 2004 satire about a cadre of marionettes who try to save the world from a terror plot fronted by the the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, the current leader's father. Kim — a devotee of American popular culture who idolized James Bond and owned thousands of DVDs — never commented publicly about his buffoonish depiction in "Team America." But his regime reportedly asked the Czech Republic to ban the film there, although it was rebuffed.
Hollywood maverick Robert Altman burned bridges with this tough, trenchant parody of the American political scene at the dawn of the 1980s. "Health" was shelved by Fox and barely saw the light of day in theaters. It also irritated silver screen royalty sitting in the Oval Office. President Ronald Reagan screened the film at Camp David on June 12, 1982, during a ferocious storm. In his diaries that day, according to a volume edited by historian Douglas Brinkey, he called it "the world's worst movie."
It wasn't the first time Hollywood aggravated an American president — and it likely won't be the last.