18 Dec 2014

Sony cancels release of The Interview after hack threat

Sony Pictures scraps its comedy film based on the fictional assassination of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, after embarrassing internal emails are leaked and further cyber hacks are threatened.

All plans to release the film were cancelled after the FBI warned movie theatres and businesses linked to The Interview they could be targeted in further cyber attacks.

The cinema release of the film had already suffered delays after several theatres refused to show the film following a huge hack on internal Sony emails and their publication on the internet. The New York premiere was cancelled on Wednesday.

Hackers said in November they were infuriated by the film, leading to speculation that North Korea was behind the cyber hack – although Pyongyang has denied it.

Read: The hack, the film, its studio and North Korea - are they related?

The film cost $44m to produce and was due for release in the US on Christmas day.

When asked whether Sony would release the film on DVD or via the internet, a spokesman said there were “no further release plans for the film”.

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the US House of Representatives, said the decision to pull the film meant America has “lost its first cyberwar”, warning the move was “a very very dangerous precedent”.

The White House National Security Council said the US was investigating the Sony hack, and was “working tirelessly to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice”, said a spokeswoman.

“We are considering a range of options in weighing a potential response,” she added, saying the government played no role in the decision to scrp the film.

Remember the 11th of September 2001 Sony hackerswarning

Sony said it was “deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company”.

In late November, hackers naming themselves Guardians of Peace released emails and data stolen from Sony, including plans for future film releases and embarrassing email exchanges regarding top public figures.

One recent warning mentioned the 9/11 attacks, saying “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,” said the hacker group in a message on Tuesday.

“Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.”