Netflix is getting rid of a controversial comedy movie in February, giving subscribers a little over a month to stream keep streaming it. On Feb. 28, Netflix will lose The Interview, a 2014 action-comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. The film was actually available on the streamer back when it was first released, and then returned in August 2021. The Interview stars Franco and Rogen as a pair of journalists who are enlisted by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, played by Fresh Off the Boat star Randall Park. The film was directed by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, from a script written by Dan Sterling.
The plot was originally set to feature Jong-un's father, Kim Jong-il – the previous leader of the country – but after his death in 2011, Jong-un was made the leader and the story was redeveloped. The Interview became highly controversial after the North Korean government threatened to take action against the United States if Sony, the film's producing studio, released it. Sony also suffered a computer hack, carried out by a group tied to North Korea, which led to stolen data and many leaked emails. This resulted in theater chains refusing to carry the movie, which led to Sony initially releasing the movie as a digital rental only.
The movie ended up grossing $40 million in digital rentals, which made it Sony's most successful digital release. It also earned an additional $12.3 million at the global box office, as some countries opted to allow the film to be screened. With an estimated budget of $44 million, the movie at the very least earned back more than three times what it cost Sony to produce.
In a past New York Times interview, Rogen and Franco opened up about the controversy surrounding the film and offered their positions. "No one has officially told me our movie, 100 percent, has proven to be the cause of any of this stuff," Rogen said of the fallout. "We're not the first people to shed light on how crazy North Korea is, the myths that exist there and the oddities of the regime. The Daily Show, on a nightly basis, makes jokes about real-life events. South Park does it on a weekly basis."
Regarding the North Korean government's response to the movie, Franco said, "They went after Obama as much as us. Because [they think] Obama actually produced the movie." Rogen added, "They don't have freedom of speech there, so they don't get that people make stuff." At this time, it is unclear if The Interview will be available on another streaming service after it leaves Netflix, so fans may want to queue it up while they still can.