The New York premiere of The Interview has been canceled in the wake of a threatening message posted Tuesday by the Sony hackers, Variety reported.
A spokesperson for Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema told the industry daily that the East Coast premiere of the comedy scheduled for Thursday would not take place.
The West Coast premiere of the Seth Rogen and James Franco movie, about an assassination attempt against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, took place without incident in Los Angeles on Dec. 11.
A message from the Guardians of Peace group posted online Tuesday warned of a 9/11-like attack on movie theaters that screen the Sony Pictures Entertainment film.
Sony does not plan to withdraw the film following the threat, but is leaving it up to theater owners and chains to decide whether to show the film, a source familiar with the situation said late Tuesday.
Carmike Cinemas, the fourth-largest cinema chain in the country, has decided to cancel its planned showings of the film, the Associated Press reported. Carmike operates 278 theaters across the country.
Notice of the canceled premiere came late Tuesday, as Sony and the movie industry as a whole considered the possible consequences of an Internet message threatening thousands of movie theaters that will be showing The Interview on Christmas Day.
Federal officials say they are close to making a determination on the source of the hack on Sony.
A federal law enforcement officer, who was familiar with the case, but not authorized to speak publicly about it, could not say precisely when the determination might come.
Merely the fact that the hackers — whoever they turn out to be — made the threat totally changes the nature of the event, said security expert Philip Lieberman, president of Lieberman Software Corporation.
“Up to now it was about money, revenge, etc. With this posting, the U.S. government can now get involved in a major way,” he said.
The threat of physical violence against theaters also triggers mutual cooperation with other governments. “Frankly, I am surprised that the attackers pulled the trigger on what is a well-known draconian response scenario that pits them now against government assets,” Lieberman said.
Long-time film critic and historian Leonard Maltin was at a loss for words over the latest turn of events in the saga, now entering its fourth week.
“There have been protests over films,” he said. “But I cannot think of threats from an anonymous group like this.”
The hackers’ message warned potential viewers, “We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”