Sony is moving ahead with plans to debut The Interview on Dec. 25, but there might not be many theaters in your neighborhood actually playing it. Not long after the National Association of Theatre Owners released a statement today saying, “individual cinema operators may decide to delay exhibition of the movie so that our guests may enjoy a safe holiday movie season experiencing the many other exciting films we have to offer,” several of the biggest theater chains indicated that they would not be featuring the James Franco/Seth Rogen comedy about an assassination attempt on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un due to the terrorist threats made by the Guardians of Peace hackers.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, AMC, Regal, Cinemark, and Cineplex theaters have followed the lead of the Carmike and Bow Tie chains and will not be screening The Interview. Sony declined to comment on the new development, but since those six theater chains are made up of more than 1,700 theaters in North America, it will be difficult for the studio to mount a significant theatrical release at this time.
“Due to the wavering support of the film The Interview by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats, Regal Entertainment Group has decided to delay the opening of the film in our theatres,” read Regal’s official statement.
AMC’s statement read:
“The recent cancellation of The Interview‘s premiere and publicity appearances by its leading talent, and the overall confusion and uncertainty that has been created in the marketplace, brings into serious doubt whether the movie will open at all next week. At this time, to best enable AMC guests to plan their holiday movie-going with certainty and confidence, AMC is programming its theatres without The Interview.”
Carmike Cinemas, one of the country’s largest chains with 2,917 screens in 41 states, announced its intention to pull The Interview from theaters yesterday, and Bow Tie Cinemas followed suit earlier today:
“We at Bow Tie Cinemas are saddened and angered by recent threats of terrorism in connection with the movie, The Interview. It is our mission to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests and employees. Given that the source and credibility of these threats is unknown at the time of this announcement, we have decided after careful consideration not to open The Interview on Dec. 25, 2014 as originally planned. We hope that those responsible for this act are swiftly identified and brought to justice.”
In the most recent statement claiming to come from Guardians of Peace, the anonymous group that hacked Sony’s computer network and leaked embarrassing and essential personal information, their political posturing took a threatening tone that invoked a 9/11-level attack at theaters that screen the film. “Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made,” read the missive. “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.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.”
The North Korean government has denied knowledge of or involvement in the cyberattack, but back in June, the country’s state media called the film an “act of war.”
Sources close to the film confirmed a Deadline report that the studio will support the theater chains’ decision whether or not to screen the film when it is released. But some celebrities immediately criticized the chains for setting a horrible precedent by succumbing to the anonymous threats:
AMC, Cinemark, and Carmike did not immediately respond to EW‘s request for comment.