WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday said Sony Pictures "made a mistake" in pulling the satirical film "The Interview" after suffering a devastating cyberattack blamed on North Korea.
"I wish they (Sony) would have spoken to me first," Obama said at a news conference. "I would have told them, 'Do not get into a pattern in which you're intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.'"
Obama made the remarks after the Federal Bureau of Investigation said North Korea was behind the cyberattack over the film about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The Sony Corp unit canceled the Christmas Day release of the film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco after large cinema chains refused to screen due to unspecified threats by hackers.
Asked about Sony's decision, Obama said, "Yes, I think they made a mistake." He said Sony's decision sent a bad signal about self-censorship in the entertainment industry.
"We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States," the president said. "Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don't like, or news reports that they don't like."
The hackers released embarrassing emails between Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin joking in a racially insensitive manner about Obama's film tastes.
Both Pascal and Rudin have publicly apologised.
(Writing by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Mary Milliken and Jonathan Oatis)