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Theater chains abandon The Interview after terror threat

Theater chains abandon The Interview after terror threat

News continues to worsen for the Kim Jong-un assassination comedy The Interview, as well for as its distributor, Sony Pictures Entertainment, embroiled in its email-hacking scandal and now a potentially huge loss. In the wake of threats issued on Tuesday by the hacker group calling itself Guardians of Peace ("Remember the 11th of September," its statement read, adding, "we will clearly show it to you at the very time and places The Interview [sic] be shown"), stars Seth Rogen and James Franco dropped out of all media events. Thursday night's New York world premiere at Landmark's Sunshine has been cancelled.

Several theater chains including Regal, AMC and Bow Tie Cinemas have followed suit, delaying their releases indefinitely. It's now uncertain how many NYC theaters—if any—will be presenting The Interview on its planned Christmas Day release. The website re/code is reporting that rival studios are privately bringing pressure on Sony, hoping to limit the potential loss of viewership for their own releases during the crucial holiday frame. Lost in all of this is the movie itself, a film our critic loved (read David Ehrlich's review). Clearly, theater chains are taking the matter seriously, even as the Department of Homeland Security downplays the threat.

UPDATE: Variety is now reporting that Sony has decided to pull the movie entirely from its Christmas Day release. The studio's official statement is close to furious. Here's an excerpt: "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."

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