It's done. Sony Pictures Entertainment announced Wednesday, Dec. 17 that the studio is pulling The Interview after terror attack threats were made by the same group responsible for the Sony hacks.
"In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release," Sony Pictures announced in its release. "We respect and understand our partners' decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers."
Sony's decision follows a chilling warning made by a group of anonymous hackers (who call themselves the Guardians of Peace). In their Tuesday, Dec. 16 message, the group advised moviegoers from visiting theaters offering screenings of The Interview. The organization's latest threats overlapped with its execution of the Sony hacks, which have revealed a deluge of email correspondences between top studio executives and stars — some incredibly offensive.
On Wednesday, Sony Pictures slammed the hackers collectively for their "unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business." It also brought up the email hackings while announcing the cancellation of The Interview.
"Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale — all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like," the statement read. "We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."
Before Sony solidified its plans to pull the film entirely, the studio gave theaters their blessing to cancel screenings of the comedy, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as CIA-recruited journalists deployed on a mission to assassinate Kim Jong-un, the dictator of North Korea.
According to CNN, the big-name chains opting to abstain from showing the film include Regal, Cinemark, and Carmike Cinemas. Smaller theater chains including ArcLight, Southern, and Bow Tie Cinemas, have also decided against showing the film in their locations. In a statement to CNN, the latter company said it was "saddened and angered" by the threats.
Canadian-based theater chain Cineplex also told CNN that it would postpone screenings of the film. "Cineplex takes seriously its commitment to the freedom of artistic expression, but we want to reassure our guests and staff that their safety and security is our number one priority," the company told the network in a statement. "We look forward to a time when this situation is resolved and those responsible are apprehended."
While the L.A. premiere of The Interview went on as planned last week without any hiccups, Landmark canceled the Thursday, Dec. 18 premiere of the film in NYC due to the threats.
Theater and film executives aren't the only ones who are concerned about the recent threats. A source told Us Weekly that the film's stars Franco and Rogen are both shaken by the threat, opting to cancel upcoming interviews and appearances on The Tonight Show, Watch What Happens Live, and Late Night.
"They're genuinely worried," the insider told Us of the stars. "They're going to lay low. Nobody knows who is behind it truly and it's not worth the risk."
The Department of Homeland Security released a statement on Tuesday, saying there was "no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters."
On Wednesday, Deadline reported that New Regency is also scrapping an upcoming North Korea-based project starring Steve Carell.
The tension surrounding the film traces back to this past summer, when the nation's dictator Kim Jong-un slammed the movie via a mouthpiece in an interview with The Telegraph UK. "There is a special irony in this storyline as it shows the desperation of the U.S. government and American society," a statement said on behalf of Kim. "In fact," Kim continued in his cryptic statement, "President [Barack] Obama should be careful in case the U.S. military wants to kill him as well."
The Interview was slated to open on Christmas Day, along with other highly-anticipated blockbuster flicks like Disney's Into The Woods and Universal Studio's Unbroken.
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