Guy DeLisle Comments on the Cancellation of the Pyonyang Movie

pyongyang coverThe hubbub over the Sony/North Korea internet battle isn’t limited to the cancellation delay of the release of The Interview. The events have made other movie companies gun-shy to do anything surrounding North Korea. Paramount stopped the showing of Team America, and New Regency has stopped the production of a film based on the graphic novel Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea.

Pyongyang tells the story of author Guy DeLisle‘s experience in North Korea while working with an animation study. It provides a fascinating look at the secretive country.

Though what was known about the film didn’t quite sound like what DeLisle wrote, the movie was to star Steve Carell and be directed by Gore Verbinski. Verbinski has commented on New Regency’s decision. Now DeLisle has done the same.

From his website:

The filming was scheduled to start in March in Serbia and I got a phone call from Gore Verbinski. He shared with me how he envisioned the movie, I was excited and I feel very disappointed to learn today that the whole thing is cancelled (I can’t imagine what the producer feels like after working on this for two years). What saddens me the most are the reasons that lead to this. One would have imagined that a huge corporation would not bend so easily under the threats of a group of hackers from North Korea. Apparently they hit a sensitive nerve.

In 2001, a few months after my return from North Korea, I was sending the first pages of my book to the animation studio directors who had sent me there. I thought that they would be amused to read how life was in Pyongyang, where their TV series was produced. The reaction was cold, I was told that I wasn’t allowed to talk about my stay over there and that my contract had a confidentiality clause that prevented me from publishing a book on the subject.

I consulted with my editor at the time, L’Association, where I had published my first albums. Jean-Christophe Menu the director of this small publishing house really liked the idea and the first pages of the book. We looked for the confidentiality clause and couldn’t find it. Finally he told me: too bad if we end up in court, it’s a book we have to do.