The New York premiere of the Sony picture “The Interview” was canceled yesterday and the studio gave theater chains the option of bowing out of screening it. Meanwhile, the action-comedy’s stars pulled out of media appearances and various law-enforcement agencies weighed the threat of a terrorist attack on moviegoers as the hackers who have leaked sensitive email correspondence and personnel information threatened, “whatever comes… all the world will denounce the Sony.”
“Tuesday’s development posed an ugly dilemma for Sony and exhibitors: whether to pull ‘The Interview,’ caving to hackers who have wreaked havoc with Sony’s digital systems for weeks in an attempt to block the release, or to forge ahead, risking possible violence and potential legal liability,” write Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes in TheNew York Times. “In an already-fragile industry, studio executives privately voiced concern that any theater violence could swing the market further toward home viewing.”
“In a message sent at around 9:30 a.m., the group — calling itself Guardians of Peace — issued a warning along with what appears to be files related to Sony Pictures CEO and Chairman Michael Lynton,” Saba Hamedy reports in the Los Angeles Times.
“‘We will clearly show it [our Christmas gift] to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,’ the hackers wrote.” They also “invoked the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, urging people to keep themselves ‘distant from the places at that time,’” Hamedy writes.
“Our first call was to the chief of police to get his assessment of the terrorist threat level. He concurred with what is being reported in the media; the threat of terrorist action is extremely low,” one unnamed exhibition chain executive told Deadline Hollywood’s Dominic Patten and David Lieberman. “That said, the police department will be doing a security briefing with our managers and staff so that everyone is on the lookout for any suspicious behavior.”
Georgia-based Carmike Cinema, with 2,917 screens in 41 states, became the first chain to bail out, Variety’s Dave McNary reports.
ABC News’ Lesley Messer, Lee Ferran and Cole Kazdin write that the “Department of Homeland Security said the threat is not backed up by any ‘credible intelligence,’ but sources told ABC News that the Sony hack and matters tied to it are being investigated not just as a criminal cyber matter but as a national security matter by the nation's law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Co-stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, who both attended the Los Angeles premiere of the movie last week, yesterday “canceled media appearances including a Buzzfeed Brews conversation, Rogen’s Thursday appearance on ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’ and an interview with both of them on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ on Wednesday,” Varietyreports.
In the film, which currently scores 46% with six “fresh” and seven “rotten” reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, “Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show ‘Skylark Tonight.’ When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim Jong-un.”
Sony has hired “high-profile litigator” David Boies, the Hollywood Reportertells us, to attempt to stem the leaks the media have published and “Hollywood figures, including Brad Pitt, Aaron Sorkin and Seth Rogen have publicly criticized the media for publishing stories based on information hacked from Sony,” The Guardianreports. Sorkin “attacked the New York Post, the Daily Beast and the Huffington Post for reporting on the information stolen in the Sony hack, which he says is helping criminals,” reports Lauren Gambino.
“Let’s just say that every news outlet that did the bidding of the Guardians of Peace is morally treasonous and spectacularly dishonorable,” Sorkin wrote in an op-ed piece published in Monday’s print editions of the New York Times.
Meanwhile, TMZ is reporting this morning that “multiple sources connected to the studio” say “the strong, prevailing view is that the North Koreans are probably involved, but they used someone with intimate knowledge of the Sony email system to laser in on the most embarrassing information.” The article suggests “a possible link between the hackers and Sony layoffs, which included a large number of IT employees.”