A scene from Sony's "The Interview."
LOS ANGELES — Sony will release The Interview on Christmas Day as planned, leaving it up to individual theater owners to decide whether to show the film in light of new threats of physical attacks from hackers that have devastated the studio, HDT has confirmed.
Despite the push to move ahead as planned, the movie's New York premiere scheduled for Thursday at the Sunshine Cinema on the Lower East Side was abruptly canceled Tuesday evening. Landmark Theaters, which owns the cinema, announced the decision to nix the premiere, according to Deadline Hollywood.
The news comes after Carmike Cinemas had already told Sony that it was pulling out of The Interview. Based in Columbus, Georgia, the chain has 2,900 screens in less than 300 theaters, mostly in small towns, where the threat would be least credible.
ArcLight Cinemas, which has multiple locations in the Los Angeles area and elsewhere, also won't be screening the movie, an employee told Deadline Hollywood.
Multiple reports surfaced Tuesday that Sony was considering pulling the film altogether, but a person close to the situation says that option is not on the table. Individuals from major theater chains had told HDT earlier in the day that for now, the release plan was status quo on their end.
Sony took hits on three fronts Tuesday: First when the hacking group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" released a new batch of data, primarily the emails of Sony Entertainment CEO and Sony Pictures co-chair Michael Lynton; then with the threat of a 9/11-style attack at theaters showingThe Interview, and finally with a pair of lawsuits from former employees.
The Lynton emails reviewed so far by HDT were mostly innocuous business affairs, certainly not on the level of co-chair Amy Pascal's racial comments about Obama, or the damaging personal info that led to the lawsuits.
Of note: Lynton is close with 24-year-old SnapChat CEO Evan Spiegel; Lynton was considering a purchase of the movie-focused cable network Starz; and old script notes from Marvel executives ripping the studio's plans for a darker reboot of the Spider-Man franchise. HDTcontinues to review the documents.
The Interview opens nationwide on Christmas Day, and premiered in Los Angeles last week with extra security (and without incident). The film also has a New York premiere slated for Thursday which so far is going on as planned, though stars Seth Rogen and James Franco have canceled their media appearances in the meantime.
Unless something changes between now and Christmas, leaving the film's release fate in the hands of exhibitors almost surely means it will screen nationwide. The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday said there were no credible threats of an attack, and indications were that law enforcement, including the FBI, was scaling up surveillance efforts in light of the new threat.
Will audiences turn out for The Interview? The theories run both ways: Many believe that the added attention, curiosity and inherent act of defiance against the cyberbullies will give the film a boost. At least, that was the case before the Guardians of Peace — who have made good on all threats so far — escalated the menace to a threat of physical harm.
UPDATED 9 p.m. PT to include details about the canceled New York premiere and Arclight Cinemas decision.
Tags: ENTERTAINMENT, FILM, SONY HACK, THE INTERVIEW