The New York premiere of “The Interview,” a Sony Pictures comedy about the assassination of North Korean President Kim Jong-Un, has been canceled and a source said one theater chain had scrapped plans to show it, after threats from a hacking group.
Internet news company BuzzFeed reported that the stars of the movie James Franco and Seth Rogen had canceled all planned media appearances on Tuesday, the day they were scheduled to appear at a BuzzFeed event. Representatives for the actors did not immediately respond to requests for comment.The hackers, who said they were also responsible for seizing control of Sony Corp’s (6758.T) computer system last month, on Tuesday warned people to stay away from cinemas showing the film starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, and darkly reminded moviegoers of the Sept. 11 hijacked plane attacks on the United States in 2001.
“We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time,” the hackers wrote.
A spokeswoman for Landmark, which was to have hosted a premiere of the film at its Sunshine Cinema in Lower East Side, New York, on Thursday, said by email that the screening had been canceled, but did not explain why.
A Sony spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the threat. Sony executives had earlier told theater owners it would not pull the film but added they would not object if they decided to cancel screenings, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
Carmike Cinemas (CKEC.O), operator of 278 theaters in 41 states, informed Sony late on Tuesday that it would not show the film, the person said. Carmike executives were not immediately available for comment on Tuesday evening, a spokesman said.
An official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and another U.S. security official said investigations had found nothing concrete so far to substantiate the threat.
“At this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States,” the DHS official said.
Police departments in Los Angeles and New York, however, said they were take the warning seriously.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told a news conference that officers would be taking extra precautions to make sure movie theaters were “as safe as we can make them”. He said the threats were “done to put terror” into U.S. audiences.
The North Korean government has denounced the film as “undisguised sponsoring of terrorism, as well as an act of war” in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
U.S. security agencies are investigating a hacking group that carried out the cyber attack in November that severely damaged the movie studio’s network and published damaging internal emails, unreleased films and employee data online. The group published what appeared to be more internal emails on Tuesday.
Marc Maiffret, chief technology officer of cybersecurity firm BeyondTrust, said he believed it was the first time a film screening had been pulled in the wake of a high-profile cyber-attack.SHOW MORE