Entertainment & Sports Law

Sony Pictures cancels 'Interview' movie release, cites 'unprecedented criminal assault' by hackers

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Following Tuesday threats reportedly made by the same Guardians of Peace hackers who say they stole and leaked confidential Sony Pictures documents, the entertainment company on Wednesday announced that it was canceling the scheduled Christmas Day release of a controversial movie that apparently sparked the Internet intrusion.

A message suggesting potential violence prompted big theater chains to remove The Interview from their schedules. That led to a decision by Sony to cancel the scheduled release of the movie, according to the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

The Tuesday message from Guardians of Peace says: “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”

Calling the entire situation “an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business,” Sony Pictures says in a written statement that “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 company did not rule out subsequent release of the movie, or release by another means, such as premium video-on-demand.

The Interview is a comedy about a television host recruited to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Although North Korea has condemned the movie, the country denies that it had any involvement in the hack attacks on Sony Pictures.

The movie stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, who reportedly canceled their media appearances in conjunction with the movie release.

The Chicago Tribune, Fox News, the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.) and the New York Times also have stories.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Hackers who attacked Sony Pictures posted employee medical info online”

ABAJournal.com: “Sony Pictures hires David Boies, who warns media to destroy hacked documents”

The Verge: “Why Sony Pictures should release The Interview online “

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