Thursday’s premiere of the movie “The Interview,” a comedy about a CIA attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has been canceled in New York amid threats issued Tuesday by hacker group Guardians of Peace (GOP) against moviegoers.
A spokesperson for Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema told Variety that the decision to cancel the New York premiere of the movie, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, came after GOP, which hacked into Sony Pictures Entertainment last month, sent a threat message Tuesday, mentioning the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The message was also accompanied by a new set of documents apparently stolen from Sony.
The newly leaked data, which the hackers called a “Christmas gift,” included emails from the company’s co-chairman and CEO Michael Lynton, as well as threats against supporters of the “The Interview.”
Sony Pictures told movie halls on Tuesday that it would move forward with the movie’s release, but that it would also support theaters’ individual decisions on whether to show the upcoming film, which is scheduled to be released across the U.S. on Dec. 25, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Earlier on Tuesday, Carmike Cinemas, which operates 278 theaters across the country, became the first to opt out of screening the film, saying that its theaters had canceled the planned screenings, according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, U.S. security agencies investigating the massive Sony hack, said that there is no credible intelligence to indicate a threat against theaters planning to show the controversial movie. However, police across the country vowed to take extra measures to ensure security.
“At this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States,” an official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was quoted by Reuters as saying.
According to one theory about what motivated the Sony hack, North Korea may have encouraged GOP to launch a cyberattack in retaliation for the Sony-backed movie. However, North Korea has denied supporting the cyberattack even while lauding it.