Fear stalks the multiplexes in what once was the season of peace and joy

As hackers issued new threats of violence on Tuesday, Sony Pictures began telling theater owners who had booked The Interview that they are free to drop the movie, and that the studio will support them whatever decision they make.

'The Interview' is a comedy about an assassination plot again N. Korea's Kim Jong-Un, right, who is not amused.
‘The Interview’ is a comedy about an assassination plot again N. Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, right, who is not amused.

The situation appears to be very fluid: Neither the National Association of Theatre Owners nor the individual national theaters chains have yet publicly spoken about the situation. But according to some insiders, exhibitors are wary of becoming liable if they show the movie and any violence occurs.

The discussions have also involved requests from theater owners that Sony provide heavy security if they do go ahead and play the film. At the same time, some feel that Sony is throwing the decision about whether or not to show the movie into their laps when the studio itself should be making that call. It remains to be seen if, as a result of discussions that have taken place throughout the day, Sony ultimately decides not to release the film at this time. Sony representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, has been scheduled to open in wide release on Christmas Day, when it will bow against such other movies as Universal’s Unbroken and Disney’s Into the Woods.

The latest anonymous email from the hackers,issued Tuesday, appeared to threaten violence against public screenings of the movie. Citing 9/11, the hackers issued a warning and said, “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.” While the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that it has found no evidence of an active plot against movie theaters in the U.S., the threat has raised concerns among exhibitors and other studios.


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