Sony cancels North Korea movie in apparent win for Pyongyang hackers

Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:37am EST
 
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By Eric Kelsey, Lisa Richwine and Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sony Pictures has canceled the release of a comedy on the fictional assassination of North Korea's leader, in what appears to be an unprecedented victory for Pyongyang and its abilities to wage cyber-warfare.

Hackers who said they were incensed by the film attacked Sony Corp (6758.T: Quote) last month, leaking documents that drew global headlines and distributing unreleased films on the Internet.

Washington may soon officially announce that the North Korean government was behind the attack, a U.S. government source said.

The $44 million raunchy comedy, "The Interview", had been set to debut on Dec. 25, Christmas Day, on thousands of screens.

"Sony has no further release plans for the film," a Sony spokeswoman said on Wednesday when asked whether the movie would be released later in theaters or as video on demand.

Earlier in the day, Sony canceled next week's theatrical release, citing decisions by several theater chains to hold off showing the film. The hacker group that broke into Sony's computer systems had threatened attacks on theaters that planned to show it.

North Korea has denied it was behind the hacking, but security experts in Washington said it was an open secret Pyongyang was responsible.

"The North Koreans are probably tickled pink," said Jim Lewis, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Nobody has ever done anything this blatant in terms of political manipulation. This is a new high."   Continued...

 
A security guard stands at the entrance of United Artists theater during the premiere of the film "The Interview" in Los Angeles, California in this December 11, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian/Files