Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sony Pulls 'The Interview' Movie after Threats by Cyberterror Group

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sony Pulls 'The Interview' Movie after Threats by Cyberterror Group

Article excerpt

"The Interview" has been cut short - before moviegoers even bought the first tub of popcorn or debated the satire's mirth or merit.

After a day of watching theatrical chains bow out of showing the movie, Sony Pictures Entertainment scrapped the Christmas release of the Seth Rogen-James Franco movie about a talk show host asked to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. It had drawn threats from a cyberterrorism group, which, most chillingly, invoked 9/11 in a message disseminated Tuesday.

Sony's announcement made the decision for several local theater chains that had been scrambling to figure out whether to show the movie.

"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," Sony said in a statement.

"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 announcement capped a fast-changing story that started with the hacking of Sony email and records and escalated to threats to attack theaters. On Tuesday night, Carmike Cinemas chain said it would not screen the movie. Then came word that the premiere, scheduled for tonight in New York, had been scrapped.

In less than 24 hours, other big players such as Regal, AMC, Cinemark and Cineplex Entertainment also dropped the movie from their lineups, already robust with new titles.

"This is kind of unprecedented. I mean, there's been controversial films in the past, like 'The Last Temptation of Christ,' where people don't play them for [various] reasons but this is a unique situation certainly," said David Huffman, director of marketing for JRF Management, which runs the SouthSide Works Cinemas and theaters in Cleveland. "The Interview" had been booked at three of its locations.

The Department of Homeland Security has said there is no evidence of an active plot against movie theaters, but Wednesday the National Association of Theatre Owners called "the ability of our guests to enjoy the entertainment they choose in safety and comfort" a priority for theater owners. …

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