HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — Advertisements for Sony Pictures’ “The Interview” were taken down Thursday after the film’s Christmas Day release was canceled following a threat made by hackers.
Four of the five largest movie theater chains in the United States announced Wednesday they would not be showing the film after a group, identified as The Guardians of Peace, issued a rambling threat stating theaters planning to show the film and those attending the screening should “remember the 11th of September 2001.”
The threat, which was written in broken English, was released Tuesday on file-sharing services that have been used to circulate stolen internal emails in the cyberattack.
A few hours later, Sony released a statement announcing the cancellation.
“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,” the entertainment company said.
Reporter Rebecca Ford of The Hollywood Reporter says Sony Pictures was pressured to cancel the movie’s release.
“I think a lot of the studios were really concerned that if ‘The Interview’ did play, that people would be scared to go to the movies in general and then every studio would be hurt during a season that they really need high numbers at the box office,” Ford told CBS2/KCAL9’s Randy Paige.
Sony officials have said the company has no immediate plans to distribute the film. The cyberattack could end up being the most damaging hack attack ever on a U.S. business.
“If Sony wants to claim this film as a total loss, they can’t be releasing it for $10 million on Video on Demand when it would have made so much more at theaters. For insurance purposes, it sounds like they won’t be releasing it on Video on Demand,” she said.
Meanwhile, industry insiders say the mere possibility of North Korean involvement is having a chilling effect on other projects, including one movie that has been taken out of production.
“The phrase is chilling effect,” said Professor Jason Squire at the School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California, who adds that he doesn’t believe the chilling effect will last long.
“Will it change the creative impulses of screenwriters? I think not. It’s a very tough, tough, tough group of very creative people in Hollywood and around the world,” Squire said.
According to a White House spokesman, the incident is being considered a matter of national security and is being investigated by the FBI and the NSA.
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