Hackers claiming to be those that have seriously disrupted Sony Pictures' computer systems in the biggest corporate hack in history posted a message to the heads of the company telling them to cancel the release of film The Interview .
The group also leaked a trove of emails from senior Sony Pictures employees which include private employee information, the phone numbers of actors and the aliases they use when travelling, film budgets and unreleased scripts. It includes the
private information of about 40,000 employees, including home addresses, previous salaries and social security numbers.
The Interview is a North Korea-baiting film that is a reason some have speculated that the country could be involved in the attack.
In a message titled Their Privacy , and written in broken English, hackers said that Sony had refused to give in to its demands to cancel the release of the movie of terrorism. The group signed themselves as From God'sApstls.
The message reads:
We have already given our clear demand to the management team of SONY, however, they have refused to accept.
It seems that you think everything will be well, if you find out the attacker, while no reacting to our demand.
We are sending you our warning again.
Do carry out our demand if you want to escape us.
And, Stop immediately showing the movie of terrorism which can break the regional peace and cause the War!
You, SONY & FBI, cannot find us.
We are perfect as much.
The destiny of SONY is totally up to the wise reaction & measure of SONY.
Update: Violent threats prove to be very effective at censorship
The New York premiere of The Interview, a comedy about the assassination of North Korea's president, has been cancelled amid threats from hackers. A spokesman for the cinema chain due to host the screening said it had been shelved. Hackers
targeting Sony Pictures had threatened to attack US cinemas showing the studio's film.
Calling themselves Guardians of Peace, the hackers mentioned the 9/11 attacks in a recent warning, claiming 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, the hacker group wrote in a message.
A spokesman for Landmark, the cinema chain due to host the New York premiere, confirmed the showing had been cancelled but gave no reason, Reuters news agency reported. Executives from Sony had previously said they would not object if cinemas
chose not to show The Interview.
Sony has bowed to the demands of North Korean-linked hackers and made the unprecedented step of pulling its film The Interview from cinemas. Sony announced the movie would not be released as planned in America on Christmas Day after
threats of violence by the hackers.
The decision was made after the five biggest cinema chains in the US, operating 20,000 screens between them, said they would not show the comedy, which centres on a plot to assassinate the secretive state's leader Kim Jong-un.
Sony said it had no further global release plans for the film - which had a scheduled UK release date of Feb 6, 2015.
US investigators said it had determined North Korea was behind the devastating cyber attack following weeks of speculation. President Barack Obama said his administration is taking the cyber attack against Sony studios seriously, but urged
cinemagoers not be cowed by the threats.
Many were quick to criticise Sony's decision, calling it a major blow for freedom of expression and warned it could set a dangerous precedent of censorship.
Offsite Comment: US weighs response to film threat
The White House is treating the cyberattack on Sony Pictures as a legitimate national security matter as the film studio deals with the fallout from its controversial decision to pull The Interview from theaters.
After Sony yanked North Korean satire The Interview from theaters, several small houses announced plans to show Team America - another film featuring a North Korean leader - in an attempt to spite the hermit regime.
However, Paramount Pictures has now put the kibosh on the screenings - sending out messages barring the cinemas from showing the movie.
One of the theaters, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema said;
Due to to circumstances beyond our control, the TEAM AMERICA 12/27 screening has been cancelled. We apologize & will provide refunds today.
Paramount however has yet to explain their decision to ban cinemas from showing the film.
Team America: World Police features the previous leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il as a singing marionette that gets impaled on a spike and is later revealed to be a space alien North Korea called The Interview and act of war for
portraying the assassination and violent death of its current leader, Kim Jong-un.
Sony made a mistake by axing the comedy The Interview . Speaking after the FBI pinned the blame on North Korea for a massive hack of Sony Pictures, President Barack Obama said:
We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a
documentary that they don't like, or news reports that they don't like.
Or even worse imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don't want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.
That's not who we are. That's not what America is about.
Obama said he was sympathetic to Sony's plight but added: I wish they had spoken to me first.
Update: America makes a token gesture about free speech
In a plot reversal, Sony Pictures will allow The Interview to play in about 200 US cinemas as of Christmas Day, after coming under criticism from President Barack Obama for caving into pressure from North Korea
The Interview was put back into cinemas on Tuesday when Sony Pictures Entertainment announced a limited Christmas Day theatrical release for the comedy that provoked an international incident with North Korea and outrage over its cancelled
Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton that Seth Rogen's North Korea farce will be in a number of theaters beginning Thursday.
North Korea called President Barack Obama a monkey and blamed the US for shutting down its Internet amid the hacking row over the comedy The Interview. The country's powerful National Defense Commission, the country's top governing
body led by Kim Jong Un, said that Obama was behind the release of The Interview . It described the movie as illegal, dishonest and reactionary. A spokesman said:
Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest.
The Interview is a 2014 USA action comedy by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen.
Starring James Franco, Seth Rogen and Randall Park.
Dave Skylark and his producer Aaron Rapoport run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show "Skylark Tonight." When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to
legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them.
Sony has announced that The Interview will be released in UK cinemas on 6 Februaryfollowing limited screenings in the US.
The film's theatrical release was originally shelved after the hackers responsibly for a cyber attack on Sony threatened to bring a bitter fate to cinemas.
But after a huge backlash and the surprise intervention of President Barack Obama, the studio released The Interview online and in selected American cinemas over Christmas.
Following an aggressive hack against Sony in the US, The Interview was released on over 200 UK screens on Friday. This is a full cinema release after fading credibility of the hacker threats that curtailed the US cinema release.
However in the US the film was made available to purchase via on-demand services and has already been rented or downloaded 4.3m times and has taken $40m from digital sales and over $6m from cinema takings. Sony have now claimed it is the No 1
online film of all time , and with the The Interview costing $44m to make, all production costs have already been recouped.
In fact, the whole saga has revealed to have come at barely any financial cost to Sony at all. Announcing their third quarter results on Thursday, Sony said the hack would cost just $15m in investigation and remediation costs and that it
doesn't expect to suffer any long-term consequences, though several employees are believed to have filed lawsuits against the company for failing to protect their personal data.
Sony did play down the UK release a little. The studio has not put on any pre-screenings, or sent out any copies to UK critics. Similarly, no interview opportunities with the cast have been offered to the media, with both James Franco and Seth
Rogan notably absent from the talk show circuit.
A South Korean activist, Lee Min-bok, says he has flown thousands of copies of controversial Sony film The Interview over the North Korean border. He said he had carried out the launches at night four times since January.
The Seth Rogen comedy, about a fictional CIA plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, enraged Pyongyang.
Lee, a defector from the North, said he had tied the DVDs to balloons along with bundles of US dollars and leaflets criticising Kim's regime. He told AFP news agency:
I launched thousands of copies and about a million leaflets on Saturday, near the western part of the border.
Lee told CNN that the North hates this film because it shows Kim Jong-un as a man, not a God and that he wanted to tell the truth to North Koreans.
Any North Korean who had access to a DVD player and was found to have watched the film would likely face a lengthy sentence in a prison camp.