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Sony Officially Cancels THE INTERVIEW In Wake of Hacking Scandal and Terrorist Threats (UPDATED)

UPDATE: President Obama delivered his strongest remarks to date on the situation around The Interview. In his final press conference of the year Obama stated:

“We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if somebody’s going to intimidate them for releasing a satirical movie, imagine what’s going to happen when there’s a documentary they don’t like.”

“Even worse, if producers and distributors start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody who frankly probably needs their sensibilities offended.”

“That’s not who we are. That’s not who Americans are.”

“Again, I’m sympathetic to Sony … but I wish they had spoken to me first.”

“We’ll engage with not just the film industry but the news industry, the private sector.”

“All of us need to anticipate that occasionally there are going to be breaches like this … but we can’t start changing our patterns of behavior anymore than we would stop going to a football game because there might be a terrorist attack.”

“Any more than Boston didn’t run its marathon this year because of the possibility that someone might try to call home.”

“I love Seth and I love James.”

“I think it says something about North Korea,” Obama says, that it would “mount an all-out attack over a satirical film … starring Seth Rogen.”

“That gives you a sense of the regime we’re talking about here.”

“We will respond, we will respond proportionally, and in a place and time that we choose. It’s not something that I will announce here today at this press conference.

“More broadly though this shows we need to cooperate [with international partners]. Right now it’s sort of the wild west. And part of the problem is you’ve got weak states that can engage in these kinds of attacks, you’ve got non-state actors … that’s part of what makes this issue so important.”

Update: A Sony spokesman has announced that “Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film,” including VOD or DVD. 

Additionally, American intelligence officials are reporting that the North Korean government was “centrally involved” in the recent attacks on Sony Pictures.

Sometimes the bad guys get exactly what they want.

Today, Sony Pictures officially cancelled its release plans for the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy The Interview, which was scheduled to release next week on December 25. The film follows two bumbling members of a television news program who are recruited to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

North Korea has publicly condemned the film and some believe that they had a hand in the recent hacking attack by Guardians For Peace that targeted Sony. North Korea, however, has publicly denied any involvement in the cyberattacks.

The hackers, who stole everything from internal documents to private e-mail correspondences to the social security numbers of employees, released another parcel of stolen data on Tuesday along with a message threatening violence against any theater that showed The Interview and those who attended screenings of the film.

The message reads as follows:

“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.)”

In the wake of that threatening message, the National Association of Theatre Owners said its members must each decide individually whether or not they would proceed with plans to release the film, and that Sony must respect their wishes. What followed was a string of theater chains like AMC, Regal, ArcLight, and many others announcing that they would not screen the film at all.

A Homeland Security official said the department was investigating the threat, but “as yet had found no clear indication of an active plot against theaters.”

Today, though, Sony officially pulled the plug on its plans to release the comedy on Christmas day.

Here is Sony’s official statement:

“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. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.

Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. 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. 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.”

While it is understandable that they would want to mitigate any risk to their clientele, it is deeply disheartening to see so many people give in to the demands of these craven, morally bankrupt cowards making threats. As many have already said online, this is a dangerous precedent to set for the film industry on the way in which they respond to threats.

The decision will likely result in a significant financial loss for the studio, especially considering the amount of money they’ve already poured into marketing in addition to the film’s $42 million budget.

Perhaps the film will still see the light of day at a later date or through digital channels, which would be a potentially smart avenue for them to pursue as it would mitigate the risk to theater owners, but for now it seems the terrorists have won.

[HT: Variety]

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  1. chris says:

    the great dictator never said hitlers name. thats the big difrance.
    having a movie about assassinating a real person crosses alot of lines that im surprised they were allowed to cross.

    theres a reason that as much as obama is hated theres no killing obama movie.

    if they just used a fake name the controversy  would be far smaller.

    everyone would still know who they were talking about.

    and korea reacted as yould expect. if there was a movie about killing the queen do you think england would be ok with that?

    if i made a movie about killing you? well first id get hit with lawsutes for threatening you. you would be given a restraing order. my movie would not be aired in most theaters.
    and you would be pissed.

    of all the horrible things north korea does every day of all the pepole killed or hurt buy them and all you fing losers care about is a dumb movie.

    instead of fighting for a b movie why dont you fight to help that country a safer better place?

  2. Amber says:

    While I agree its a dangerous precedent to set, how else would you have Sony respond? I’ve been WAITING for this film but if Sony were to not take precautions and if something DID happen, the media would be full of “why didn’t you act!?”questions. I’m with them, keep your people safe, don’t take the risk. That said, screw the North Korea “administration”. Hmpf.

  3. GCapriccio says:

    I would like to think that not only is North Korea trying for the way of life of not only their country but the way of life for all of their followers. I would like to continue, for what I know of North Korea to think that what it is that makes their nation a place where they think that peace is the job of the government an issue for the world to react to and to tell you that not only is the work of their nation a place for all, leaving the continent not only a superpower but a place for the work for a controlling ignorant dictatorship that can only be spoiled by terrorist.

  4. Lari says:

    Umm lets not forget 911 was an inside job by the govt how do we know their not behind all this !??

  5. Lauren says:

    Can they not turn it into a Netflix release?  That way they still release the movie, make money and have no target for the terrorists?

  6. nooneinparticular says:

    Would be nice if Anonymous could review the info on Guardians of peace

  7. Ken says:

    They call people’s safety ‘paramount,’ but I thought our nation stood for the principle that free speech is worth dying for, and we should not cave in to terrorist threats.  I suspect this has nothing to do with threats to the safety of movie patrons, or any decision by theaters about showing the film.  Rather, I think the stolen data has some dirty laundry that Sony execs want to hide.  To me, that’s the most logical explanation.  I mean, they knew when they put this into production that North Korea would be making threats over it, that’s no surprise.  It’s the hacking and stolen data that was the surprise and leverage here.

  8. Nicole says:

    I think the problem with it was the disrespect for a country’s leader. I mean, if North Korea made a movie about someone trying to kill Obama it would be just as big of a deal to us as it is to them. I don’t see why Sony couldn’t have a made up name/country like most movies do. That way they could have released the movie and millions of lives wouldn’t have been threatened. 

  9. Casey says:

    What a society we live in. Where 2 moron potheads can’t make a film depicting them assassinating a current world leader without someone getting upset and the rest of the moron’s country coming to their defense because: self-entitled morons should be allowed to do whatever they like…? Idiocracy at it’s finest! When does “Ow my balls” begin airing?

  10. Casey says:

    What a society we live in.  Where 2 moron potheads can’t make a film depicting them assassinating a current world leader without someone getting upset and the rest of the moron’s country coming to their defense because: self-entitled morons should be allowed to do whatever they like…?  Idiocracy at it’s finest!  When does “Ow my balls” begin airing?

  11. trace says:

    This is absolutely rediculas. N. Korea can kiss an ass. Fuck em. Lets just bomb em, and then release the movie. 

  12. blkbelt24 says:

    As a general manager at a movie theater I need to point out that our decision was not out of fear of terrorists, but fear that Sony would pull the film, like they did, and leave us with an empty auditorium on Christmas day.

  13. Kyle says:

    North Korea can and will kiss my ass since I been in south Korea guess what I plan to poison all of your shit on rice…..  fuck with me and I will fuck your president right back

  14. Andrew says:

    Bunch of pussies.

  15. jim says:

    if someone made a comedy film about someone trying to assassinate rush limbaugh, would he be wrong to flip shit?  they chose to use a sitting leader as their target, a leader they knew was a fruitcake that does crazy shit.  when’s the last time a movie did that?
    they can change the names of their targets and get away clean.

  16. Rob says:

    This is beyond ridiculous. North Korea are no threat WHATSOEVER to anyone on American soil, and that assumes that they actually had anything to do with the hacks, particularly considering intelligence officials admit the likelihood that the attacks stemmed physically from outside of North Korea. The cinemas chains that quickly refused to show the movie and subsequently Sony for pulling the release date are cowardly morons who have succumed to a threat of dubious validity, solely, in my belief, because they just want to get the stink of the bad press off them, bury the movie, wait for the whole thing to blow over and then pretend it never happened. Pathetic.

  17. demonoid says:

    If only aony would just chuck it up on a torrent site or two..

  18. John Doe says:

    Let’s threaten the movie theatre’s, you know they are against (concealed) firearm carry so they are a perfect target.

  19. Florentin Popescu says:

    geez. its a trash movie, and they’e trying to make proffits. I’m glad they got hacked 

  20. Dan says:

    This would of been so good ffs 

  21. doug says:

    Sony is not an American company, so real American company that’s not scared of a bunch of midgets will step up and put this movie out there for sale soon.. i don’t buy movies but id buy this one video tape me buy n it and tell whoever sent out those fake threats with a threat of my own,, i dear a mother fucker to try some shit on me and my country… We will stand as one as we crush u an your country colors

  22. Pyrate69 says:

    Um, White House Down? Air Force One? In the line of fire? And many others….None of them censored. No big deal.

  23. Joseph says:

    It adds depth. Movies founded on something the public knows and can relate to go a lot further than entirely mad up plots

  24. jonny c says:

    Isn’t Sony japanese?

  25. runningcreek says:

    says the poo in our society , 

  26. Bailey says:

    You seem to forget that the ONLY country to have EVER used nuclear arms…is your beloved fuckin’ America.

    Get off that high horse and realize that America would do the exact same, and your western media has warped your puny little mind.

    If  there was a film about people assassinating Barack Obama, do you think they’d be showing it? No, clearly not as your “Body removal services/CIA” would remove them from existence.

    Naive, you are.

  27. Rumour Control says:

    Actually, in 2006 there was “Death of a President”, a British movie about the assassination of George W. Bush, then President of the US. 
    Sure, there were people railing against it, saying it was in poor taste, but the film played (even in the US itself) and went on to win awards.
    So no, the US does not have peopled killed for making movies like that.

  28. Tokster says:

    It’s a different time. The likelyhood of this movie being contained is extremely low. It’ll be leaked on the Internet, and anyone will be able to see it.

  29. oops says:

    That’s ricist.

  30. Itzura says:

    @Jennifer You must be pretty fucking stupid (or racist) to make a comment like this. Lots of people eat rice. It’s actually pretty awesome how many ways you can do rice. And the fact that you don’t think that North Korea would do anything makes you na├»ve. They brutalize and torture their own people. What makes you think they wouldn’t harm us? All it takes is stupid, single minded people like you to push them over the edge. 

  31. Cristina says:

    saying “they eat rice” isnt being racist. i know people in south korea (a country nothing like north korea) and even there they look down on the parts of the country that cant afford meat and must eat rice. its like how some americans view mac and cheese, as a poor mans food. you cant fight terrorism but if Nkorea were to bomb us wed simply fight them as a country, not as isolated groups. england got bombed like hell from germany and survived, american cant be afraid of having a war grace their shores 

  32. elSpanielo says:

    Nope, straight to VHS and Betamax.

  33. JJ82 says:

    Agreed! I doubt that a company that can’t keep people out of their personal files will be able to keep people from seeing this

  34. Veronica Farmar says:

    Do you use a pay_pal. in the event if you do you can create an extra 1300 a week in your pay working on the internet five hours per day. look at

  35. Don says:

    Why is it that every moron has the caps lock stuck?  Do they think they are lecturing us with their ignorance?  Jennifer, your hate and ignorance would be right at home with the terrorists.