US release of ‘The Interview’ scrapped in wake of apparent threat from Sony hackers

The controversial Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy film follows a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-Un

The US release of Seth Rogen and James Franco’s controversial new comedy film The Interview has been cancelled in the wake of an apparent safety threat.

Sony Pictures released a statement yesterday (December 17) confirming that The Interview will not open on Christmas Day as planned after many leading US cinema chains had pulled their scheduled screenings of the film.

The statement explained: “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.”

A threatening message sent on Tuesday (December 16) by the so-called “Guardians of Peace” – the group which claims responsibility for hacking into the computer systems of Sony Pictures earlier this month (December) – invoked the attacks of September 11 in warning cinema-goers not to attend screenings of the film.

“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,” the written message said.

A representative for the US Department of Homeland Security said in response to the apparent threat from the so-called ‘Guardians of Peace’: “We are still analysing the credibility of these statements, but at this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theatres within the United States.”

Meanwhile, Rogen and Franco had already pulled out of several planned US TV appearances to promote the film, in which the pair play celebrity journalists who land an interview with North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-Un, but are instructed by the CIA to assassinate him.

North Korea has denied any involvement in the recent hacking of Sony Pictures, but branded it a “righteous deed” that its “supporters and sympathisers” may possibly have helped to perpetrate.