Sony Just Canned 'The Interview' in the Wake of Terrorist Threat

The latest fallout from the hack crosses the line from digital impact to physical results.

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Dec 17 2014, 10:45pm

'The Intercept' official poster. Image: ​Wikimedi​a​ Commons

Sony has cancelled the cinematic release of The Interview in the wake of its cyberattack after the five largest cinema chains in the country decided not​ to run the film.

"Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business," Sony wrote in its first statement on the matter,  ​as reported by CNN Money. "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."

"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," Sony's statement continues. "We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."

Earlier this week, the anonymous hackers claiming to be the power behind the massive cyberattack that unearthed thousands of Sony documents threatened to attack movie ​theaters that show the film, which features James Franco and Seth Rogan as a television host and producer, respectively, enlisted by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-Un after landing an interview with the North Korean ruler.

"Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear," a message posted on PasteBin this week read. "Remember the 11th of September 2001."

On Tuesday, Sony cancelled its New York premiere of the film, and the cinema chains announced their decision to not run the flick Wednesday.

The latest fallout from the hack—which uncovered salaries and social security numbers of Sony employees, early cuts of yet-to-be-released films, and reams of internal emails—pushes the effect of the hack from gossip and intrigue to real life action. It has crossed the line from digital impact to physical results: dark movie screens across the country.

​Security expert Bruce Schneier told Motherboard it's likely the threats of violence are just acts of bravado from the hackers, who call themselves the Guardians of Peace.

"I think this is just a regular hack. All the talk, it's hyperbole and a joke. They're [threatening violence] because it's fun for them—why the hell not?" Schneier said. They're doing it because they actually hit Sony, because they're acting like they're 12, they're doing it for the lulz, no one knows why," he said, though the extreme reaction from Sony isn't surprising.

"Everyone at Sony right now is trying not to get fired," Schneier added.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating the threats made against movie theaters playing The Interview, which was set to open in theaters on December 25. But an official from the Department of Homeland Security told Politico W​ednesday the threats were not credible.

"We are still analyzing the credibility of these statements, but at this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States," the official said.