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Sony Cancels 'The Interview' Release After Theaters Decide Not to Show It

By  Aidan Gardiner and Radhika Marya | December 17, 2014 3:56pm | Updated on December 17, 2014 6:51pm

 James Franco, left, and Seth Rogen at the Los Angeles premiere of their forthcoming movie "The Interview" on Dec. 11.
James Franco, left, and Seth Rogen at the Los Angeles premiere of their forthcoming movie "The Interview" on Dec. 11.
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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — Sony Pictures announced that it will cancel the Dec. 25 release of controversial film "The Interview."

The move came shortly after reports that the New York City premiere was canceled and that major movie chains would not run the flick amid a hacker group's threats of another 9/11 type attack.

"We respect and understand our partners' decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers," a reported statement from Sony said.

The film depicts comedy duo James Franco and Seth Rogen's characters trying to kill North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-Un.

According to reports from NBC News and The New York Times, U.S. officials believe the North Korean government was involved in the hacking attacks.

The hacking group, which has been steadily releasing embarrassing private information from the Sony corporation, published a trove of documents Tuesday along with the threat, which they called "a Christmas gift," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

"We will clearly show [the remainder of the 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 group said, according to the Reporter.

"The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you'd better leave.)," the threat continued.

"The Interview," was going to have its New York City premiere at Landmark Cinema's Sunshine Cinema at 143 E. Houston St., near First Avenue, on Thursday.

In response to the threat, theater executives canceled the Thursday premiere, the Reporter said.

The film had premiered in Los Angeles on Dec. 11 without incident, The New York Times reported.

Regardless, the movie industry took the threat seriously. Theater chains that decided not to play the movie included Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., Cinemark Holdings Inc. and Carmike Cinemas, Inc., according to reports.

The NYPD was still investigating the threat and communicating with federal authorities, according to the department's deputy commissioner on counterterrorism, John Miller.

A spokeswoman for Sunshine Cinema did not immediately return a request for comment.

A Steve Carell movie, described as a "paranoid thriller" set in North Korea, was also canceled Wednesday, according to Variety.