NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sony Pictures called off the Christmas Day release of the movie “The Interview” on Wednesday, amid threats from the group behind the cyberattack on the studio.
Sony also said it has “no further release plans for the film.”READ MORE: Amazon Web Services Reports Major Outage; Netflix, Venmo, Instacart Among Many Affected Sites
The decision by Sony came after at least 20,000 theaters decided to pull the movie. The Seth Rogen and James Franco film is about a CIA plot to kill North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and security fears had spurred Sony to allow theater chains to cancel showings.
“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,” Sony Pictures said in a statement. “We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.”
As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, many questioned the decision to call off the release of the movie.
“I think that’s ridiculous, because it’s a movie, you know?” said Robert Hodges of Brooklyn. “It’s comedy; freedom of speech.”
But Steven Bryson of Bay Shore, Long Island countered, “For us to think that it’s OK to just put out a movie like that, I think, was wrong anyway, so I think it was a good decision to pull it.”
Joe Pichirallo, chairman of the undergraduate film and TV program at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, said the situation was a plot twist the movie business could not have predicted.
“The threat against the movie really put this into a whole other realm,” Pichirallo said. “The cyberattack was unprecedented in this magnitude.”
Pichirallo, a former studio executive, said Sony made the right call in calling off the movie.
“The notion that fear to go to the movie theater could keep people from coming had to be taken seriously,” he said.
As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported Tuesday, AMC, Cinemark, and locally Bowtie cinemas had all canceled screenings of the movie altogether before the announcement, following the threats of violence against theaters. Regal Cinemas decided to delay the opening.
The New York premiere of the film was set to take place Thursday night at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema, at 143 E. Houston St. But that too was canceled.
“I think it’s kind of scary that I live above the cinema, and they’re kind of going to have a threat against people going to watch the movie,” said Mai’s Kohury, of the Lower East Side.
The hacker group calling itself Guardians of Peace threatened moviegoers Tuesday with violence reminiscent of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The online message says in part how, “…bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001.”