'Kill Kim' film axed amid threats
A film due for release next week depicting a fictional plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been dropped after hackers threatened terrorists attacks and cinema chains pulled the movie from its screens.
The Interview, planned for release on Christmas Day, starred Hollywood names Seth Rogan and James Franco in a comedy about the assassination of the North Korean dictator.
However, reports in America last night stated Sony Pictures decided to cancel the planned release.
In a statement, Sony said it was cancelling the release "in light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film".
The studio, which has been shaken by hacker leaks over the past several weeks, said it respected and shared in the exhibitors' concerns.
The statement said: "We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public.
"We stand by our film-makers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."
If follows a decision earlier to scrap the film's New York premiere, while hackers named Guardians of Peace have already carried out a cyber attack on Sony and warned members of the public not to watch the film.
The seriousness of the threat is unclear. The Department of Homeland Security said there was "no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theatres", but noted it was still analysing messages from the group.
The FBI is investigating the identity of the hackers, but suspicion has centred on North Korea, which previously issued warnings over The Interview.
The stunt had undoubtedly raised the film's profile, while the announcement that several leading cinemas would not show it further added to public appetite for the film.
Sony did not say what its plans for The Interview now are, or whether the film's release could potentially happen at a later date, although a n online-only viewing of the release has been mooted by those still keen to see it.
US actor Rob Lowe reacted by apparently comparing Sony's submission to the hackers to British prime minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policy towards Adolf Hitler.
He tweeted: "Saw @Sethrogen at JFK. Both of us have never seen or heard of anything like this. Hollywood has done Neville Chamberlain proud today."