Update 5:05 p.m., Dec. 17, 2014: This post, caption, and headline have been updated to reflect the fact that Sony has canceled the movie’s opening.
The biggest theater chains in the U.S. decided not to show Sony Pictures Entertainment’s The Interview on its planned opening night, Dec. 25, following terror threats posted online Tuesday by a group that claims it was also behind the massive hack that leaked internal Sony documents. Sony responded to the move by canceling the planned Christmas release of the film.
“[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,” the Sony statement read. “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,” the statement continued. Here’s more from it:
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.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., Cinemark Holdings Inc., and Carmike Cinemas Inc. backed out on showing the film after Sony Pictures announced on Tuesday it “wouldn’t object” to them doing so. The companies planned to wait to air the movie until after the completion of a federal investigation into the cyberattack on Sony and the terrorist threats that followed it, according to a Wall Street Journal source.
The Interview follows two journalists, played by Seth Rogen and James Franco, who work with the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The Wall Street Journal reported that government and corporate investigators believe the hackers are “associated with North Korea.” Deadline reports that the threat read in part, “Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001.”
On Tuesday the Department of Homeland Security said the threats against movie theaters were not credible, according to the Wall Street Journal.
These four chains alone make up a huge portion of American theaters. From the Wall Street Journal:
Together, the four chains control more than 18,000 of North America’s approximately 40,000 movie screens. Carmike, the fourth-largest U.S. theater chain with more than 2,000 screens, told Sony yesterday that it wouldn’t play the movie, according to people familiar with the matter.
Carmike was the first chain to announce its decision.
The three other chains conferred on a call facilitated by the National Association of Theatre Owners to make their decisions. Reuters reports that the association said in a statement, “We look forward to the time when the responsible criminals are apprehended. Until that happens, individual cinema operators may decide to delay exhibition of the movie.”