Sony has officially canceled the planned Christmas Day release of The Interview. The move felt like a forgone conclusion after major exhibitors in the country dropped the film from their upcoming rosters on Wednesday.
The Interview stars James Franco and Seth Rogen — who also directed the film — as a pair of bumbling journalists charged with the task of assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-un; it has been plagued with problems in the days leading up to its release. A cloud of controversy has hovered over the crude comedy ever since a group of hackers — who call themselves Guardians of Peace and are believed by many to be working on behalf of North Korea — hacked into Sony's IT infrastructure and disseminated sensitive emails online.
Uncertainty over the film's release grew after the hackers threatened to attack any theater that screened the film. "Remember the 11th of September 2001," they warned in a threat.
What began as something that was more embarrassing than anything mushroomed into a situation far worse. First, Rogen and Franco cancelled all upcoming promotional appearances for the film, and on Tuesday, the New York premiere was also nixed.
Once the major theater chains began pulling out on Wednesday, the film's theatrical release seemed highly unlikely.
"In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release," Sony said in a statement. "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 filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."
Both Franco and Rogen have yet to comment.