Breaking with what Sony executives tell New York Times was a 25 year tradition, Sony president and former SCEA head Kaz Hirai got directly involved in watering down the intensity of Kim Jong-un's bloody, explosive death scene in upcoming movie The Interview, the paper reports.
The report in the New York Times is fueled by documents leaked to media by hackers who many believe are tied to North Korea and spurred by that country's displeasure over the notion of the movie showing their leader dying.
North Korea has officially denied any ties to the attack, but have also denounced the upcoming film, a dark comedy about an attempted assassination of Kim, as an "act of war" and promised a "merciless response."
In a series of emails leaked to a number of media organizations, movie creators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the heads of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Hirai went back and forth on just how explicit Kim's fatal scene should be.
The debate seemed to center around how Kim's head should be depicted as it is hit by an explosion created by a nearby helicopter. Over the course of the emails, the group debated removing flames from Kim's hair, reducing how much his face disintegrates and how visible his head's bloody explosion should be.
Ultimately, Hirai got directly involved in the scene, asking for specific changes including the removal of face melting, burning hair and embers on the face. He also asked that the head explosion be obscured to some degree and that the entire scene not be shown outside of the United States.
You can see that version in the video sent to Defamer, which also has the original email chain.
Hirai's decision to get directly involved in the film breaks with a long-held tradition that left Sony's Hollywood studio autonomous.
Hirai started his career at Sony at Sony Music Entertainment Japan in 1984. He moved to Sony Computer Entertainment of America in 1995. In 2006, he was named the president of Sony Computer Entertainment. In 2012, Hirai was named the CEO and president of Sony.