Sony Tells Theater Owners They Can Pull “The Interview”

Sony Pictures executives told theaters they’re free to pull “The Interview” from their multiplexes following threats of violence by a hacker group, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

The studio will support whatever decision exhibitors make regarding the Seth Rogen comedy, said one person, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be named. Hackers who seized control of Sony’s computer system last month have threatened people who go to see the movie, which opens Dec. 25.

“We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time,” the hackers wrote in a reference to theaters that will show the film. “(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”

Sony, which has said until now it would go ahead with the release, is softening its position after the hackers invoked Sept. 11 in threatening theatergoers. The studio’s computers were attacked by cyber terrorists objecting to “The Interview,” a comedy about a U.S. TV crew that’s recruited to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The hackers, who call themselves Guardians of Peace, have been linked to a suspected North Korean group known as DarkSeoul, according to two people familiar with the company’s investigation.

There is no credible intelligence to indicate there is an active plot against movie theaters in the U.S., said an official with the Department of Homeland Security who asked not to be identified during an investigation.

The NYPD is aware of the threat and will maintain a presence to reassure people, a spokesman said.

Operators of the four largest U.S. theater chains didn’t respond to requests for comment. The Culver City, California-based entertainment division of Sony Corp. held talks about the film with theater owners today, one of the people said.

The film isn’t being released in Asia.