Sony announced on Wednesday that it was pulling the plug on The Interview, a raunchy comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, about the attempted assassination of a North Korean dictator. The decision comes after Sony was targeted by a massive cyber attack which compromised terabytes of sensitive and embarrassing company data, which the hackers were releasing drip by drip.
The hackers also sent a message threatening a 9/11-style terrorist attack on any theater that showed the movie. The threat was not deemed credible by the Department of Homeland Security and President Obama urged Americans to “go to the movies.” As security expert Peter W. Singer explained to Vice “the ability to steal gossipy emails from a not-so-great protected computer network is not the same thing as being able to carry out physical, 9/11-style attacks in 18,000 locations simultaneously.”
But the episode is already having broader impacts in the industry. Deadline Hollywood reported that another major film to be set in North Korea, starring Steve Carell, has already been canceled:
New Regency has scrapped another project that was to be set in North Korea. The untitled thriller, set up in October, was being developed by director Gore Verbinski as a star vehicle for Foxcatcher star Steve Carell. The paranoid thriller written by Steve Conrad was going to start production in March. Insiders tell me that under the current circumstances, it just makes no sense to move forward… Fox declined to distribute it, per a spokesman.
North Korea has denied responsibility for the cyber attack while praising the hackers. U.S. intelligence officials, however, say they have linked the attack to North Korea.