Newspaper article International New York Times

Sony Cancels Release of 'The Interview'

Newspaper article International New York Times

Sony Cancels Release of 'The Interview'

Article excerpt

Before Sony's decision to not release "The Interview," the four largest theater chains in the United States said they would not show the movie.

Sony Pictures Entertainment has dropped plans for its Christmas Day release of "The Interview," a movie that depicts the assassination of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after receiving a terror threat against theaters.

Before that decision on Wednesday, the four largest theater chains in the United States said they would not show the movie, which has been at the center of a devastating hacking attack on Sony over the last several weeks. In a statement, Sony said: "We respect and understand our partners' decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theatergoers."

American intelligence officials on Wednesday concluded that the North Korean government was "centrally involved" with the attacks on Sony's computers. That determination and the cancellation of the film were new twists in a series of developments that has found a major studio fighting for its art, and perhaps life, against forces driven by a foreign government.

Shortly before Sony stepped back, AMC Theaters, citing a need for customers to "plan their holiday moviegoing with certainty and confidence," joined Regal Entertainment, Cinemark and Carmike Cinemas in dropping the film. Together, those exhibitors control more than 19,200 screens across the United States. Smaller chains in the United States and Canada's Cineplex Entertainment also canceled bookings.

A Sony spokesman said the studio "has no further release plans" for the $44 million comedy. The cancellation was a sharp defeat for the studio, which for months had stood behind the film and its plot as being within its creative rights, even as North Korean officials excoriated it as "an act of war" and a group of hackers raided the studio's computers and published mounds of private corporate data online in declared retribution for the movie. "The Interview" was co- directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.

On Tuesday, a threat of terrorism against theaters that show "The Interview" was made in rambling emails sent to various news outlets. The emails aimed the threat at "the very times and places" at which "The Interview" was to play in its early showings.

Once the hackers threatened physical violence, the film's cancellation became almost inevitable, even though Sony spent a day steadfastly maintaining its plans for the release and premiere. Since the Aurora, Colo., theater shootings in 2012, Cinemark had fought lawsuits with a defense that said the incident was not foreseeable -- a stance that would have been nearly impossible with "The Interview. …

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