LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - President Obama on Friday said that Sony Pictures Entertainment "made a mistake" in pulling the movie "The Interview," just hours after the FBI announced that North Korea was responsible for the cyber attack on the studio.
"Yes I think they made a mistake," he said at a press conference, in response to a question about whether he agreed with Sony's decision. He cited what would happen for the distribution of other types of films, like documentaries, that certain foreign regimes don't like.
"We can not have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship in the United States," he said. His opinion on Sony's decision to pull the movie was in line with a number of industry voices who wondered if it set a bad precedent.
He added that "We cannot start changing our patterns of behavior any more than we stop going to a football game because there may be a possibility of a terrorist attack." He cited the case of the running of the Boston Marathon this year after a terrorist attack a year earlier.
The FBI announced on Friday that they have concluded that North Korea was behind the attack on SPE's computer systems. The bureau cited malware linked to "other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed."
A key question is what kind of response, if any, the U.S. government will take. MPAA chairman Chris Dodd called the cyber attack a "despicable, criminal act" that was the work of cyber terrorists.
Obama said that the U.S. would "respond, and respond proportionately...in a place and at a time of our choosing," but he declined to go into specific details. He said that the U.S. had "no indication" another country like China was also involved.
"We just confirmed that it was North Korea, we have been considering a range of options which will be presented to me," adding that he would make his decision based on what he perceives as "proportional."
Obama said that it "says something about North Korea" that they would launch an attack on Sony over a "satirical movie starring Seth Rogen." he also mentioned James Franco, albeit mispronouncing his name as "James Flanco." "I love Seth and I love James," he said.
He called for measures to improve cybersecurity, noting that such attacks would threaten "not just a movie studio but the economy."