The nation’s largest movie theater chains announced Wednesday their intention to drop Sony Pictures’ “The Interview” after hackers behind a massive cyberattack against the company threatened 9/11-style terror attacks against moviegoers.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, AMC, Carmike Cinemas, Cinemark and Regal Entertainment along with Canada’s largest chain — Cineplex Entertainment — have all dropped screenings of the film, which stars James Franco and Seth Rogen in a comedic attempt to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
The four U.S.-based chains make up more than 18,000 of the U.S.’s total 40,000 theaters.
Chains reportedly made the decision during a conference call Wednesday morning with the National Association of Theatre Owners — the theaters’ trade group.
The hackers — suspected of hailing from Pyongyang — warned moviegoers to “remember the 11th of September 2001” and to stay away from theaters showing the film, which was scheduled to release on Dec. 25. The warning from the self-described “Guardians of Peace” was accompanied by the latest in a series of leaked unreleased films, employee information and emails belonging to high-level executives. (RELATED: Sony Hackers Threaten 9/11-Style Terrorist Attacks Against ‘The Interview’ Moviegoers)
The Wall Street Journal reports Sony denied a request on the part of theaters to delay the release of the film, but said the company would not penalize theaters choosing to cancel screenings, despite prior agreements.
Canceled showings by the chains will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the film’s bottom line, and will likely force Sony to cancel the theater release altogether to pursue other release options, such as online streaming or digital-TV on demand — options that won’t make up nearly the profit Sony expected the film to return at the box office.
The Department of Homeland Security indicated Tuesday the threat had no credibility, and the FBI is still investigating.