Hit by the worst ever cyber-attack to an American business enterprise, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton has denied that the studio had "caved" by scrapping next week's release of its movie The Interview, and said it still hoped to release the film.
"Actually, the unfortunate part is, in this instance, the president, the press and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened. We do not own movie theatres. We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theatres," Lynton told CNN.
"We experienced the worst cyber-attack in American history and persevered for three and a half weeks under enormous stress and enormous difficulty and all with the effort of trying to keep our business up and running and get this movie out into the public," he said.
Lynton said Sony was taken by surprise when the movie theatres came to it one by one over the course of a very short period of time and announced that they would not carry the movie.
He refuted charges that Sony has given up by deciding to not to release the movie in view of the threat.
"We have not caved. We have not given in. We have persevered and we have not backed down. We have - we have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie," he said, adding that Sony is exploring various options in this regard.
US President Barack Obama yesterday said Sony committed a mistake by taking such a decision and he would have advised against it had they reached out to him.
Lynton said they did approach the White House but not the President.
"A few days ago, I personally did reach out and speak to senior folks in the White House and talked to them about the situation and actually informed them that we needed help. The FBI has been with us now for several weeks and has been great.
But I did reach out and explain the situation to them at that time," he said, noting that they did not reach out to the President directly.
Responding to questions, Lynton it was last summer that North Korea came forward with emails about the film.
Following which Sony reached out to the State Department.
"The US government told us there wasn't a problem, that's correct," he said.
"We did take it (North Korean threat) seriously. We went to the people who we thought were most expert in the area, people in the US government, people in various think tanks and inquired as to whether or not this would be a problem. And they told us that it wasn't. And that actually is for the world to see as my stolen e-mails have been presented in public," he said. He defended making of the movie.
"We made the movie because we thought it was a funny comedy. Secondly, there is a long history of political satire in film. And this clearly falls into that realm," he said.
"The issue here is that having made the movie, we feel very strongly that it should have been in theatres for the American public to have seen. And we did everything in our power to make that happen," Lynton said.