(CBS) — Sony has pulled the plug on a Christmas release for the comedy “The Interview” amid threats to movie-goers from a group of hackers that U.S. officials say is linked to North Korea.
Sony’s decision comes after major theater chains such as Regal and AMC decided not to show the movie.
“The Interview,” starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, is a comedy about two journalists who get recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea.
The threat to movie-goers comes from a group of hackers that calls itself “Guardians of Peace” is believed to have engaged in a recent cyber attack against Sony in retaliation to the film’s plot regarding North Korea.
The threat read in part, “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001.”
CBS 2 Security Consultant Ross Rice doesn’t believe it is a real threat.
“It sets a terrible precedent because now you have a foreign government, a foreign entity that’s effectively infringing on first amendment rights,” Rice said.
The decision is a letdown to fans like Denny Jackson and Maribel Gonzalez who planned to be among the film’s first viewers.
“I just find that it’s kinda silly…it’s a movie,” Gonzalez said.
“It’s comedy, these are two comedians doing what they do best and just because it’s a movie you can’t cut it off like that,” said movie-goer Denney Jackson.
Chicago Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper calls the move unprecedented in the industry.
“I’m stunned,” Roeper said. “I am actually stunned that all these theater chains decided they weren’t going to show this movie and now Sony is saying they’re not going to release it altogether. I think it’s a shocking move.”
Sony released a statement Wednesday saying, “In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.
Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. 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. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”