Sony Pictures has announced that it has cancelled all current plans to show The Interview following threats to attack screenings of the film.
The Interview is an action comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogan as TV tabloid gossip show hosts that are recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
Killing Kim Jong-un has proved to be a rather controversial topic for a movie, despite North Korea being one of the world’s bogeymen for the last half century.
A team of hackers known as The Guardians of Peace, reported by the FBI to have origins in North Korea, recently hacked into Sony’s servers and stole a variety of files from early scripts new movies, to personal employee details, to entire email caches of Sony executives.
Some of these files have been leaked online, such as an early script of the upcoming James Bond movie Spectre and, more embarrassingly for Sony, private emails where studio executives have been less than polite about some of its stars.
Sony attempted to prevent the media from reporting on the leaks with threats of legal action and financial penalties, but the Streisand effect of these threats made sure that the information was read by an even wider audience.
More ominously, the hackers threatened to physically attack people who went to went to screenings of The Interview, which was widely expected to mock the North Korean leader, posting the message online:
We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
The world will be full of fear.
Remember the 11th of September 2001.
We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
All the world will denounce the SONY.
As a result of the threats of a terror attack, and an agreement from Sony that they would not face penalties for doing so, a number of major theatre owners in the US cancelled their plans to screen the movie, which was due to open on 25 December.
In a statement, The National Association of Theater Owners said:
“The ability of our guests to enjoy the entertainment they choose in safety and comfort is and will continue to be a priority for theater owners. While we do not discuss security procedures or policies, NATO members are working closely with the appropriate security and law enforcement agencies. We are encouraged that the authorities have made progress in their investigation and we look forward to the time when the responsible criminals are apprehended. Until that happens, individual cinema operators may decide to delay exhibition of the movie so that our guests may enjoy a safe holiday movie season experiencing the many other exciting films we have to offer.”
Following this announcement by theatre owners, Sony made the decision to cancel the film entirely and has reportedly no plans to release the film on Blu-ray, DVD, or online for streaming or download.
The US government said it was considering a “range of options” on how to respond to the attack.