Sony Pictures Cancels Holiday Release of ‘The Interview’ After Threats By BROOKS BARNES and MICHAEL CIEPLY DEC. 17, 2014 LOS ANGELES — Sony Pictures Entertainment has dropped its plans for a Dec. 25 release of “The Interview,” a crude comedy that prompted a threat of terror against theaters. The cancellation Wednesday afternoon came as the largest United States and Canadian film exhibitors said they would not show the movie. In a statement, Sony said: “We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.” On Wednesday afternoon, AMC Theaters, citing “the overall confusion and uncertainty” around the film, joined Carmike Cinemas, Cinemark and Regal Entertainment in dropping the film. Together, those exhibitors control more than 19,200 screens across the United States. Smaller American chains and Canada’s Cineplex Entertainment also canceled the film. Spokesmen for AMC, Cinemark and Carmike either declined to comment or could not immediately be reached. John Fithian, chief executive of the National Association of Theater Owners, did not respond to queries. Sony had no immediate comment. Regal said in a statement: “Due to the wavering support of the film ‘The Interview’ by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats, Regal Entertainment Group has decided to delay the opening of the film.” Several smaller chains, including Bow Tie Cinemas, with 350 screens, also decided on Wednesday not to show “The Interview,” which depicts the assassination of the North Korean ruler, Kim Jong-un, and was co-directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. To depict the killing of a sitting world leader, comically or otherwise, is virtually without precedent in major studio movies, film historians say. On Tuesday a threat of terrorism against theaters that show “The Interview” was made in rambling emails sent to various news outlets. The threat read in part, “Remember the 11th of September 2001.” The emails aimed the threat at “the very times and places” at which “The Interview” was to play in its early showings. Once the hackers threatened physical violence, the film’s cancellation became almost inevitable, even though Sony had spent a day maintaining its plans for the release and premiere. Since the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting in 2012, Cinemark had fought lawsuits with a defense that said the incident was not foreseeable — a stance that would have been virtually impossible with “The Interview." The film’s collapse stirred considerable animosity among Hollywood companies and players. Theater owners were angry that they had been boxed into leading the pullback. Executives at competing studios privately complained that Sony should have acted sooner or avoided making the film altogether. And Sony employees and producers bitterly complained that they had been jeopardized to protect the creative prerogatives of Mr. Rogen and Mr. Goldberg. The multiplex operators made their decision in the face of pressure from shopping malls, which worried that a terror threat could affect the end of holiday shopping. Similarly, studios that compete with Sony were scrambling behind the scenes to protect releases that include the latest “Hobbit” extravaganza and Disney’s “Into the Woods.” The incident is likely to be remembered as a failure of Hollywood leadership. As the attack progressed, both studios and the industry’s Washington-based trade associations — the theater association and the Motion Picture Association of America — remained in a defensive posture, and ultimately found no way to save the film or to stem the flow of Sony’s private data, which has been released online by hackers in waves since Nov. 24.