The New York premiere for The Interview, Seth Rogen and James Franco's film depicting a fictional assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been cancelled.
The premiere was to have taken place today at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema in Manhattan. A spokesperson for the cinema confirmed the event had been pulled late on Tuesday evening US time.
The action follows a message sent earlier that day from the group calling itself Guardians of Peace, warning audiences that they would place themselves in danger by going to see the film in a US cinema.
The message, posted online, said that those who chose to see it could look forward to a “bitter fate”, that the world would be “full of fear”, and hinted that 9/11 style attack could be expected.
Although the film’s Los Angeles premiere last week did proceed as planned, it was a low-key affair with minimal media.
Earlier on Tuesday, appearances by the film-makers including a Buzzfeed Brews conversation, as well as on Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon’s late-night talk shows, were pulled.
This scaling back of publicity came as the Carmike Cinema chain announced that it would not be screening the film, due to open in the US on Christmas Day. Stocks for Carmike, as well as the country’s three other biggest cinema chains – AMC, Regal and Cinemark and Carmike – all fell after news of the threat broke.
An announcement by Sony on Tuesday put the decision whether to pull screenings in the hands of cinema owners, but also said the studio hoped to proceed with the planned nationwide roll-out.
Variety quotes Tom Stephenson, chief executive of Look Cinemas, saying: "If they play it, we'll show it. Sony has a right to make the movie, we have a right to play it and censorship in general is a bad thing."
But there is said to be growing unease at cinema chains and rival studios that the threats may cause audiences to stay away from cinemas over one of the key weekends in the year. The department of homeland security on Tuesday released a statement saying they have not yet discovered evidence of an active plot against US cinemas.
On Tuesday, two former employees of Sony launched a class-action suit against the studio in Los Angeles, alleging the studio was negligent in guarding its computer networks and that it has plunged employees into an “epic nightmare, much better suited to a cinematic thriller than to real life”.
US authorities are investigating the source of the hack, which North Korea denies orchestrating.