US moviegoers won’t be seeing Kim Jong-un’s head explode this Christmas.
Sony Pictures is canceling the release of The Interview, a comedy that centers on an attempt to assassinate the North Korean dictator, the technology and culture website The Verge reported Wednesday.
All the big US cinema chains had decided not to show the film after threats were received of attacks on screenings.
“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 said in a statement reprinted by Variety.
“We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.”
The hackers who leaked documents from Sony over the past few weeks issued threats Tuesday of attacks on screenings of the film.
Sony said: “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.”
The theater owners’ decision has sparked concern it will set a precedent for how the film industry responds to threats — in effect, censorship by terror.
North Korea is widely suspected to be behind the cyberattacks on Sony but has denied involvement.
Sony could suffer a significant financial loss after heavily promoting the film’s Christmas Day debut.
The studio could still release The Interview in cinemas after the lucrative Christmas season, and it is almost certain it will eventually release the movie digitally, The Verge said.
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