SHAFAQNA- The New York premiere of “The Interview”, a Sony Pictures comedy about an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has been cancelled after chilling threats from a hacking group calling itself the Guardians of Peace (GOP).
In a statement sent to media outlets on Tuesday, the hackers warned the public to stay away from cinemas showing the film, in an unsettling reminder of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
“Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time,” they wrote, adding: “If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.”
They are part of the same group that claimed a brazen November 24 cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, which led to the release of sensitive emails and data.
The owner of the Sunshine Cinema, in New York’s Lower East Side, wrote in an email that Thursday’s premiere had been cancelled, without explaining why.
No reports of plot
Sony executives have refused to pull the film, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, though saying that they would not object if movie theatres decide to cancel screenings, Reuters news agency reported, citing a person familiar with the discussions.
Carmike Cinemas, which operates 278 theaters in 41 states, informed Sony late on Tuesday that it would not show the film, the person said.
“At this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States,” a department official said.
But police departments in Los Angeles and New York say they are taking the warning seriously.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told a news conference late Tuesday that officers would be taking extra precautions to make sure movie theaters were “as safe as we can make them”.
The North Korean government has denounced the film as “undisguised sponsoring of terrorism, as well as an act of war” in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Officials in Pyongyang have denied involvement in last month’s cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, but praised it as a “righteous deed”.
The attack wrecked the studio’s network and led to the publication of damaging internal emails, digital copies of unreleased films and employee data online.
GOP has described the release of 100 gigabytes of sensitive documents, including 32,000 emails to and from Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, as a “Christmas gift”.
Sony has apologized for disparaging remarks that executives made about celebrities, including Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Leonardo Di Caprio.
The embattled company has also been sued by several former employees who accuse it of failing to protect their personal data.