Sony Pictures has given theaters permission to not show the movie The Interview, following threats against theaters by a group that allegedly hacked Sony’s internal documents. Deadline.com reports that at least one large chain, the 2,917-screen Carmike Cinemas, will pull the film from its schedules.
The studio also has withdrawn the film’s stars, actors James Franco and Seth Rogen, from upcoming promotional appearances for the movie, a comedy that centers on a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader.
NPR has confirmed that Rogen is canceling all media appearances today and Wednesday. It’s unclear whether he will make appearances after that.
BuzzFeed reported that Sony had withdrawn Franco and Rogen from doing media promotions for the film. The actors had been scheduled to appear at a BuzzFeed event to answer questions about the movie.
Variety, which confirmed the actors’ withdrawal from upcoming media appearances, said they were still scheduled to appear at the New York premiere of the film on Thursday.
The Interview is scheduled for nationwide release Christmas Day.
Sony’s cyber troubles began late last month when a group calling itself Guardians of Peace hacked the studio’s computer system and released its internal documents. This included personal details of its employees, email correspondence of top studio executives, films and scripts.
Today, Guardians of Peace threatened theaters that planned to screen The Interview, saying: “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001.”
The group also released a promised “Christmas gift” of files on a France-based service called yopmail.com, The Associated Press reported.
The Department of Homeland Security said “at this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States,” but the agency said it is analyzing the credibility of the threats.
It’s unclear what link if any North Korea has with Guardians of Peace. Pyongyang has previously denounced the movie, which centers on a plot to kill its leader, Kim Jong Un, calling the film’s release an “act of war.”
Also today, two former Sony employees filed a class action lawsuit against the studio, alleging it failed to protect confidential financial and medical information from the hackers.
NPR’s Mandalit del Barco tells our Newscast unit that lawyers filed the suit on behalf of former and current Sony workers.
“The suit claims that the Nov. 24 hack allegedly by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace is ‘an epic nightmare, much better suited to a cinematic thriller than to real life,’ ” del Barco says.
“They are basically left hanging out to dry by Sony and we don’t know how bad it could get,” attorney Cari Laufenberg told del Barco.
The suit says Sony didn’t do anything to secure its computer system despite knowing about its weaknesses. Previous attacks on the network include one in 2011 that revealed user accounts on the PlayStation game system.