The hackers responsible for the ongoing leaks at Sony Pictures Entertainment are now threatening to take physical action against movie theaters planning on showing the upcoming film known as "The Interview," as reported by MSN News . The film is reportedly controversial among North Koreans because it depicts a plot by the CIA to assassinate the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un. While analysts still suspect North Korea of backing the group, they are still unsure of the group's origin.
In a message sent at around 9:30 a.m on Tuesday, the group, known as "Guardians of Peace," issued a warning with files potentially related to the Sony Pictures CEO and Chairman. The warning states:
"We will clearly show it [our Christmas gift] 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"
The hackers also mention the September 11, 2001 attacks, urging to keep themselves "distant from the places at that time", and that "The world will be full of fear". The group continued with the following statement:
"Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY."
Ralph Echemendia, chief executive of a cyber-security firm known as Red E-Digital, said that he was unaware of any other case where hackers have threatened large-scale physical violence. Echemendia also stated that "[the threat] now borders on terrorist activity and would define the Guardians of Peace as a terrorist group."
Sony Pictures executives have since issued a statement saying that they will let theater operators decide whether or not to play its upcoming film "The Interview" after the threat of physical attacks surfaced.
The move by Sony Pictures is unprecedented in recent Hollywood history and shows how high the stakes really are in the attacks on the Sony division. Usually studios and theater chains work out plans on when and where a film will play months in advance and those plans can't be changed once a studio starts a big marketing campaign. However, due to the potential severity of these claims, Sony is under pressure from theaters who may be in danger, particularly from those located in malls and other crowded areas.
Update: BBC News has reported that the New York premiere for the film "The Interview" has been canceled due to these threats.
Update #2: Sony has just announced that it is cancelling the December 25 premiere of "The Interview" after reports that the four top theater chains in the U.S. are backing out from showing the movie. NBCNews.com has also reported that the North Korean government is, in fact, behind the attacks. The full statement by Sony is as follows:
“In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.
Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. 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.”
Will you be going to see "The Interview" when it is released in theaters on December 25th? Feel free to reply in the comments below!