the Interview threats

Perpetrators of the Sony hack got a lot more serious today when they issued a threat that went far beyond stealing internal emails and documents.  “Remember the 11th of September 2001,” says the threat. “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.” In this case, “the places” refers to theaters showing The Interview, the film from writer/directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg in which Rogen and James Franco play a couple of media types who are recruited to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

While no link between North Korea’s government and the hackers (who ironically call themselves “Guardians of Peace”) has been proven, the threat stirred up fears of action that goes beyond the digital realm. And even as Franco and Rogen canceled promo appearances meant to pitch The Interview to various audiences, the Department of Homeland Security says there’s no credible info to indicate an actual threat.

Update: Sony has told theaters there won’t be a problem if they decide to drop The Interview, despite any prior bookings.

The text of the original threat reads:

Warning

We will clearly show it 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.

Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.

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.

All the world will denounce the SONY.

It’s cowardly but attention-getting stuff. But the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement, “We are still analyzing the credibility of these statements, but at this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.”

Speaking to ABC, Richard Clarke, cyber security expert and former White House counter-terrorism advisor said,

Somebody is playing mind games with [Sony]. I think North Korea has little or no capability to do any physical attacks, commando activity, or terrorism in the U.S. By saying it’s coming, however, they hope to keep people from the theaters and, thereby, hurt Sony’s revenue.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says his department will take “extra precautions” at LA theaters over the holiday.

Meanwhile, Rogen and Franco have “canceled all upcoming media appearances” following the new threat, according to Variety.  That means scheduled appearances on Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Tonight Show for this week have been canceled, among others. The two will reportedly still appear at a Thursday screening of the film in NYC. 

The Interview is scheduled for a Christmas Day release.

Update: The latest info says that Sony has said it will understand the decision of any theaters that want to drop showings of The Interview, according to THR. There has been no formal statement from either Sony or the National Association of Theater Owners.

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