The massive hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which exposed several confidential company documents, triggered fear of terrorism and forced Sony to cancel the release of the controversial movie, “The Interview,” could be the costliest ever for a U.S. company, according to an analyst.
On Wednesday, Sony announced its plans to cancel the Dec. 25 release of the movie in the wake of the cyberattack by the hacker group “Guardians of Peace” (GOP), which had compromised the company’s computer networks last month and threatened supporters of the “The Interview.” With a modest production cost of about $40 million, the movie was predicted to gross $120 million in the U.S., in addition to foreign box office revenue, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
“This attack went to the heart and core of Sony's business and succeeded. We haven't seen any attack like this in the annals of U.S. breach history,” Avivah Litan, a cybersecurity analyst at research firm Gartner, told AP.
On Wednesday, U.S. investigators reportedly said that North Korea was “centrally involved” in the hacking attacks against Sony even as the Tokyo-based conglomerate issued a statement saying that it would not release the movie. The contentious film is a comedy about a CIA attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“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 Dec. 25 theatrical release,” Sony said in the statement, obtained by Variety. “We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of our employees and theatergoers.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Sony had told movie halls that it would move forward with the release, but would also support theaters’ individual decisions on whether to showcase the upcoming film. However, after GOP sent its threat message, a number of theaters announced they would not screen the movie.