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Moviegoers threatened with 9/11-type violence

December 17, 2014

The New York premiere of controversial comedy film "The Interview" has been canceled amid security concerns. An anonymous hacker group warned it intended to target cinemas showing the movie.

The Interview Film Still
Image: Sony Pictures Releasing GmbH

Invoking the 9/11 terror attacks, the shadowy hacker group calling itself "Guardians of Peace," dubbed GOP by the media, threatened anyone attending the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy film "The Interview." Rogen and Franco have already pulled out of all promotional engagements for the film, and on Wednesday the organizers of the New York premiere, due to take place the following day, called off the event.

"Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you keep yourself distant from the places at the time," says the message released by GOP, referring to cinemas showing the film, before continuing in broken English.

Though the US' Department of Homeland Security said there was "no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters," several cinema chains have decided to pull the film from their programming. Carmike Cinemas, which operates 247 theatres across the United States, was the first to cancel all showings of the film. Sony made no official comment, but the threat is doing its job, as the film giant is allowing the theater managers to make the choice to show the movie or not.

The plot of "The Interview" revolves round television journalists played by Rogen and Franco, who are invited by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to do an interview in Pyongyang. The CIA then recruits the journalists in a plot to assassinate Kim.

Kim Jong Un Versammlung Koreanische Volkspartei 05.11.2014
Kim Jong Un took over leadership after the death of his father Kim Jong IlImage: Reuters/KCNA

Over the summer, the North Korean government called the film an "an act of war that we will never tolerate," and warned the US of "merciless" retaliation.

More woes for Sony Pictures

This is not the first strike GOP has made against Sony Pictures. Late last month, a cyberattack leaked the salaries, social security numbers, and medical records of nearly 47,000 people. North Korea's National Defense Commission denied orchestrating the attack, but called it "a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the DPRK," giving the short form of the country's full name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Along with the threat of violence on Tuesday, 32,000 emails to and from CEO Michael Lynton were leaked. Several Sony employees are suing the company for not bolstering security considering North Korea's initial response over the summer.

GOP warned that the threats and leaks were only the beginning of their "Christmas gift."

es/sb (AP, AFP)