Sony Pictures has cancelled the December 25 theatrical release of its North Korea comedy The Interview, after major US theater chains pulled out of showing the film, which stars James Franco and Seth Rogen as journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The people behind last month's Sony hack warned of 9/11-type terror attacks against individual theaters and moviegoers, forcing chains like AMC and Carmike Cinemas to opt out of screening the film. While the individuals responsible for the hack are still unknown, US officials have said that North Korea is ultimately behind the cyber attack - according to CNN on Wednesday.
The option to postpone the film's release is just one of the many issues Sony has faced since the hacking. Most recently, the company has been sued by two former employees who accuse the studio of failing to protect Social Security numbers, healthcare records, salaries and other data from the computer hackers.
Actors Ben Stiller, Steve Carell, Rob Lowe, late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel and filmmaker Judd Apatow, all friends of The Interview stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, criticized the decision made by movie theaters and Sony.Lowe, who has a cameo in the film, tweeted "Wow. Everyone caved. The hackers won. An utter and complete victory for them."Raunchy satire The Interview follows a hapless TV host (Franco) and producer (Rogen) who score an interview with the elusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and are recruited by the CIA to assassinate him.
Kimmel, writing on Twitter, called the decision "an un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent."Stiller, who directed and starred in 2001's "Zoolander", about a male fashion model brainwashed to assassinate a fictional prime minister of Malaysia, called "The Interview" cancellation "a threat to freedom of expression."Carell, who has starred alongside Rogen in numerous comedies, said "Sad day for creative expression," with the hashtag #feareatsthesoul.Both Carell and Stiller also tweeted pictures of Charlie Chaplin playing his Adolf Hitler parody in 1940 film The Great Dictator.Franco and Rogen, who directed, produced and wrote The Interview with filmmaking partner Evan Goldberg, did not make any public statements on Wednesday.A US government source said investigators had determined North Korea was behind last month's cyber attack on Sony Corp's movie studio, leaking documents that drew global headlines.One Texas cinema chain, Alamo Drafthouse, said early on Wednesday it planned to show The Interview, even as other theaters bailed.When Sony pulled The Interview, the chain said it would screen at its Dallas-Fort Worth theater the 2004 puppet-comedy "Team America: World Police" in which a US paramilitary force tries to foil a plot by then-North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.Sony said it had no plans to release The Interview on DVD, video-on-demand or online streaming platforms, despite support of the idea from fans on social media.