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Sony pulls The Interview after cinemas balk at hacker threats

UPDATE: After three cinema chains in the US dropped The Interview from their line-ups, Sony has now cancelled plans to release the film on Christmas Day. Here’s the company’s statement:

“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.”

Original report continues below…

Three of the largest cinema chains in the United States have pulled the contentious film The Interview following threats of violence at screenings.

AMC, Regal and Cinemark have all dropped the controversial Seth Rogen and James Franco film from their listings.

The decision comes after a hacking group known as the Guardians of Peace (GoP) performed a crippling attack on producers Sony Pictures, threatening action unless the studio withdrew the film.

Those warnings took on a much more menacing tone on Tuesday when parties claiming to be affiliated with the GoP referenced 9/11 and promised a “bitter fate” for anyone who chose to see the film.

It now appears the hackers have partially achieved their goal with the amount of screening venues in the US significantly reduced.

The Verge reports the National Association of Theatre Owners came to the decision during a conference call on Wednesday.

“The ability of our guests to enjoy the entertainment they choose in safety and comfort is and will continue to be a priority for theater owners,” read a NATO statement (not that NATO).

“Individual cinema operators may decide to delay exhibition of the movie so that our guests may enjoy a safe holiday movie season experiencing the many other exciting films we have to offer.”

Read more: Sony aiming to keep lid on hack by threatening press

The decision will lead to criticism from those who’ve urged Sony not to bow the threats and is sure to re-open the debate about censorship in the face of terrorism.

Sony is yet to comment on the report, but it’s another blow for the company seeking to get back on track following the debilitating hacker invasion.

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