Movies

Hackers Threaten Attacks If Sony Releases The Interview, Major Theater Chain Declines to Show the Film

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Sony Pictures

The hackers who recently stole and released massive troves of data from Sony Pictures have escalated their threats: The group posted a message yesterday warning that if Sony does not put a stop to the release of The Interview, a raunchy forthcoming comedy about two journalists tasked with assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the group will stage attacks on theaters where the movie is shown.

"Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made," the message 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.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY."

In response, Sony has canceled the New York premiere of the film, told theater owners that they have no obligation to show the movie, and halted scheduled press events for the movie's stars, Seth Rogen and James Franco. Carmike Cinemas, the nation's fourth largest movie theater chain, has already said that it will not show the movie, which is scheduled for a Christmas day release. There's some concern that theaters that show the movie could be legally liable in the event of an attack now that a threat has been made.

An official with the Department of Homeland Security told The New York Times that there were no signs that a plot against movie theaters was in the works, but that the agency is investigating the threat.

The hacking group, which some reports have suggested may be linked to the North Korean government, has already released a slew of internal emails and other communications harvested from their attack on Sony, which shut down the company's computer operations for days last month. Finished but unreleased feature-length films, including Annie, have been posted to online file-sharing networks in the wake of the attacks. Estimates indicate that cost of repairing computers systems, investigating the attack, and upgrading the company's electronic security measures could cost upwards of $70 million. Additional legal costs and other damages could put the hack's price tag well over $100 million.

The hackers have targeted the release of The Interview from the beginning, but most of the leaked documents don't have anything to do with the movie. However, one set of emails between Sony chief Amy Pascal and Rogen, who co-wrote and co-directed the film, shows intense discussions over the graphic particulars of how the film depicts Kim Jong Un's gory death. The emails, reported by Gawker, also show internal studio concern about the movie's original release date, October 10, which coincided with a North Korean state holiday.

The big question now is whether Sony might pull the movie entirely. That doesn't seem likely, as experts tell MarketWatch, but Sony isn't commenting one way or another at this point. If Sony does go ahead and yank the movie from release entirely, it would add considerably to the cost of the hack—and it would set a dangerous precedent, proving that a major U.S. movie studio, or any other media company, could be blackmailed into submission for even planning to criticize a foreign dictator.

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  1. If I was running Sony, I would release the movie online for free.

    1. It might actually get people to visit Crackle

      1. Crackle still exists?

  2. All this fuss over a fucking Seth Rogen movie? You’d think he insulted Islam or something…

    1. Come on, Heroic, you’re better than that. Don’t go all perpetually butt-hurt socon on me, buddy. There are good fights out there and not all of them involve gay marriage, abortions or the alleged persecution of christians in liberal western democracies.

      1. Woke up on the wrong side of the bed today?

        It was a joke, chill.

        1. My bad. Sorry for having jumped down your throat. I should have known you were better than that.

      2. All well-known hobby horses of HM’s.

        1. Well, it’s true that I’m deeply committed that our society preserves the sacred White Tigress traditions.

      3. Like everyone else wasn’t thinking the same thing.

  3. “”Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made,” the message 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.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY.””

    If this is some troll mocking the linguistic patterns of the North Korean news agencies, I really have to hand it to them for quality work. If anything, i’d think they were overdoing it a tad and maybe showing their hand, which is what happens when you enjoy the mockery just a tad *too much*. I mean, ‘the 11th of September 2001’ sounds more like Yoda than the Norks; it maybe shows that they’re *trying too hard*

  4. They are going to have to make a sequel, in which a bunch of North Korean hackers threaten to commit terrorist attacks to prevent the release of a comedy that makes fun of Kim Jong Un.

    1. Will it have marionettes?

  5. Theaters should run the 2007 movie with Steve Buscemi entitled “Interview” to see what happens.

    1. The sequel ends when the hackers mistakenly bomb a re-showing of ‘the Conversation’ after mistranslating the title.

      1. I lol’d

      2. Or Frost/Nixon.

  6. I am becoming more and more convinced that Rogen and Franco are behind this…they know this movie is a turd and that this whole thing is to depress the box office so that they have something to blame for it’s poor performance. Then it can become it’s own version of “The Day the Clown Cried” and live on as a lost film in the vault…

    They should let Harry Shearer screen it so he can give talks about both films actually…

    1. If it is a PR stunt it’s in incredibly poor taste. Which is a pretty good indication.

      1. “Hey, that could be the plot to my next movie…”

        /Rogen

    2. “Depress the box office”? This publicity is gold! Who goes to Seth Rogen movies? Teenager boys. You think they are worried about threats to blow up theaters?

    3. As I said to Another David below, given the simultaneous leaks of emails and obvious legal issues with making terroristic threats.

      Additionally, it’s not as if many people’s opinions of Franco, Rogen, and Goldberg are going to change based on the performance of this movie.

  7. I don’t believe that any group that is so concerned over a freakin’ movie release is going to be doing any nationwide theater terror strikes.

    If I was Sony I would ball up and proceed as planned with movies. Some theaters might refuse to show it, and that’s fine, but “you can’t let the terrorists win”.

    And this:
    “There’s some concern that theaters that show the movie could be legally liable in the event of an attack now that a threat has been made.”

    Is complete nonsense. Who is saying this? The freakin’ theater would be a victim, just the same as the movie-goers. It is twisted to hold one of the victim’s responsible for terrorists actions, simply because they didn’t shut down their business at the first uncredible threat.

    1. It probably is nonsense, but the theatre owners are looking for an out where they don’t look like the abject pants-wetting cowards they are. “See, this isn’t about US, it’s about the safety of our customers.”

    2. Is complete nonsense. Who is saying this?

      They may fearful because of the decision by the judge in the Aurora theater lawsuit to allow the case to move forward. That doesn’t mean the plaintiffs will prevail, of course, but it may be enough to freak them out.

      1. This. Plus the propensity of juries in many places (looking at you MS and LA) to return ridiculously large awards in cases of limited merit.

  8. The folks at Sony seem to lack the courage of their convictions, though it is just a movie. Still, they now self-identify as loud mouthed cowardly pussies. Except when it comes to pissing on christians, conservatives, businesses, and the military, then they are super tough guys. Assholes.

    1. Oh, Steve, do try to keep up. It’s not Sony, it’s the theatre owners.

      “pissing on christians” Waaaaaaaaaaaaah. It’s called freedom of speech, steve, you know, the same freedom of speech that allows christians to call for genocide against gay people. Not disingenuous for you people to hide behind the first then whine about others using the first to criticize you, nope, none at all.

      1. You are in a bad mood today.

        1. I think he just hates Christians more than cowards.

        2. I think he just hates Christians more than cowards.

          1. There are plenty of Christians who whine about mean movie makers being mean to them and “War on Christmas” and similar nonsense. To their credit they generally don’t riot and murder people for it.

            The US is a predominantly Christian country. Why would it be a surprise that movies that criticize religion focus on Christianity?

      2. Did you miss the bit about Sony cancelling the NY Premiere of the movie?

      3. So Tonio = Tony?

        Great. Another one.

        1. If you think that, you really aren’t paying attention very well.

          1. Thanks, Zeb.

      4. “Oh, Steve, do try to keep up. It’s not Sony, it’s the theatre owners.”

        It’s both.

        “It’s called freedom of speech,”

        You can be a loud-mouthed pussy in this country, and I don’t think he argued otherwise.

        “Not disingenuous for you people to hide behind the first then whine about others using the first to criticize you,”

        Um, no, that isn’t at all disingenuous. This is like saying it’s intellectually dishonest for me to want to legally be able to purchase raw milk while criticizing someone for eating Taco Bell.

        1. Thanks Kev-O!

          Exactly right. I submit they are free to whine, kvetch, and piss on whatever sub-group or issue they choose, First Amendment Uber Alles! What I wish to call attention to is their complete cowardice to do so when threatened, either real or perceived. Courage is not fearlessness, it is the willingness to act in spite of fear.

          They chose to make the movie but when presented with the threat of violence totally pussy out.

          I reiterate: assholes.

  9. “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001.”

    You mean US will bomb North Korea into moonscape like its 1951, and Kim Jong Un won’t even be able hassle Russians or Chinese for air cover?

    1. The problem is that Seoul is within artillery range of NK and they have tens of thousands of guns just north of the border aimed at the city.

      Any war with NK would mean millions of south korean civilans getting killed within the first few hours.

      1. Could we replace all of the South Korean civilians with Seth Rogen and James Franco.

      2. I would be interested to see an assessment of the condition of those guns and their operators. It would not surprise me to find that, in an actual war scenario, various problems would lead to few of those guns being effective. I also doubt they would get more than a few shots out before guided missiles from land, sea, and air eliminated them.

        Still, lots of property damage, and if caught unprepared, lots of causalities.

  10. On the other hand, if this turns out to be some sort of performance art, my applause goes to the artists, for choosing something believable to impersonate.

  11. “Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made,” the message says.

    I’m convinced it sucks, just from the ads.

  12. I’m not entirely convinced that this “threat” didn’t come from Sony themselves. Once thing that’s clear from the internal e-mails that got linked is that the execs thought the finished product was god-awful, and even specifically mentioned that they were dreading the press campaign they just cancelled.

    1. I wonder if Sony recently took out an insurance policy on the film. Just in case they were unable to show it do to some strange terrorist threat.

    2. The threat was delivered alongside links to new leaked Sony emails. Between that and the obvious legal liability for Sony if caught, I don’t think that is even remotely likely.

    3. I very much doubt it. Sony is way too big and has way too much to lose if they got caught doing a stunt like this.

  13. This reminds me of blaming some unknown film maker for the murder of a US ambassador…

    I can’t wait to see what gets pinned on them and the congressional hearings and calls for them to go to jail.

  14. Suderman, you left out the best bit of mangled English:

    We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.

  15. We used to make films that unapologetically mocked this country’s enemies. Now we’re afraid to show them in theaters?

    1. We’re afraid of lots of things these days. Must not offend anyone! It’s the triumph of PC thinking. If Lenny Bruce were still around, it’d be the left that crucified him.

    2. I don’t know if you could say that generally. This is a pretty unusual case.

      I heard Kim Jong Il was pissed about Team America. Maybe Un is even more insane.

  16. What SHOULD happen, is that the NYT should send a couple of reporters over to see how KJU really feels about the movie. And then those reporters should actually be CIA operatives and kill him.

    Because that would make Alanis Morisette happy.

  17. If your house is nearby, you’d better leave

    Will the Boston police be enforcing this?

  18. Obvious PR stunt is obvious.

    1. Not sure if making terroristic theats to get theatre owners to drop your film is a good stunt?

    2. You really think that a major international corporation is going to make criminal threats as a PR stunt?

      1. A fine can be an investment.

    3. Since we’re going full tinfoil here, why not accuse Sony of making this turkey at the behest of the US Government to piss off Un? Bonus points if he takes the bait and turns it into a casus belli for us?

  19. ‘If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.’

    Oh crap. I’m right across the street from a theatre.

    Oh, wait. Never mind. It’s a Carmike.

  20. Back in the good ol’ 1970’s, some theaters would gladly show a movie in the hope someone would destroy the theater building.

    1. Considering the enormous collapse of viewership since the late 1940s I can’t imagine why.

  21. It is really pathetic that so many are caving to these barely credible, non-specific threats from the likes of North Korea. I might actually have to pay money to go see a Seth Rogen film in the theater. I would say doing otherwise would mean the Hermit Kingdom’s cyber-terrorists have won, but really, there are no winners here.

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