The top five North American movie theater chains have decided to pull Sony Picture's comedy “The Interview” after cyberattackers on Tuesday threatened Sept. 11-style attacks against any theater showing the movie.
Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment will all withhold the film from their lineups, meaning “The Interview” will not appear in thousands of theaters nationwide, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Carmike and Regal have confirmed the move.
A hacking group going by “Guardians of Peace” infiltrated Sony in late November, stealing massive amounts of data. The group has since been slowly leaking Sony’s internal documents, including unreleased films and Hollywood executives’ emails.
But on Tuesday, the group upped its rhetoric, threatening violence against any theater showing the film and even against any person in the vicinity of one of the theaters.
Many have speculated the cyber offensive is a North Korean retaliation for film, which depicts the fictional assassination of Kim Jong Un. Pyongyang has denied involvement in the hack but praised the action as “a righteous deed.”
Sony on Tuesday reached out to theater chains to reaffirm it would be releasing the film on Dec. 25, but said it would respect any decisions about pulling the now-controversial movie.
The National Association of Theatre Owners said Wednesday it was working with law enforcement to investigate possible threats.
“We are encouraged that the authorities have made progress in their investigation and we look forward to the time when the responsible criminals are apprehended,” the group said in a statement.
Thus far, federal officials have said there is “no credible intelligence” of an active plot.
“Individual cinema operators may decide to delay exhibition of the movie so that our guests may enjoy a safe holiday movie season,” the association said.
Regal Entertainment said in a statement it had decided to "delay the opening of the film" because of Sony's "wavering support of the film" and "the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats."
The Hollywood elite quickly lashed out against the decision to pull “The Interview.”
“I think it is disgraceful that these theaters are not showing The Interview. Will they pull any movie that gets an anonymous threat now?” tweeted Judd Apatow, producer and writer of such films as “Knocked Up,” “Pineapple Express” and “Funny People.”
— Updated 4:15 p.m.