Things just keep going from bad to worse for Sony and the upcoming release of “The Interview,” a film that plots the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The company was hit with a massive cyberattack in November and the resultant fallout has included leaked internal documents, social security numbers of employees, and email exchanges between Sony executives and top Hollywood stars.
Sony employees and their families have also been targeted with threats, and the perpetrators of the attack — which call ironically call themselves Guardians of Peace (#GOP) — have even resorted to blackmail schemes to further them.
Now things are just getting to the point of ridiculousness, as the hackers are now claiming that they will attack movie theaters that dare to screen “The Interview.” And if the threat of attacks weren't enough, the hackers went for a gaping wound in the American psyche by bringing up comparisons to the attacks that occurred in the United States on September 11, 2001.
In a message released with the latest “Christmas gift” batch of leaked files, #GOP chillingly states, “Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. 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.”
At this time, the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t appear to be taking these threats very seriously according to ABC News. "We are still analyzing the credibility of these statements,” said a department official. “But at this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.”
“You have to take these types of threats seriously up to a point, but this sounds more like a hoax," added Matt Olson, a former director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
"The Interview" stars Seth Rogan and James Franco are taking the threats to heart, and have called off all upcoming press appearances related to the film. However, the pair did get in one final interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” before their self-imposed “blackout period.”
"I know that it has been the center of a lot of media attention lately,” said Rogan. “It is weird because we just wanted to make a really funny, entertaining movie and the movie itself is very silly and wasn't meant to be controversial in any way."
“We set out to make a movie that was really entertaining to audiences and I genuinely think we did that,” added Franco. “And that's where my job ends."
Kim Jong-un's father was the main protagonist in the 2005 film "Team America: World Police" (source: Paramount Pictures)
It’s hard to believe that so much rancor is stirring over a comedy starring Seth Rogan and James Franco. Nearly a decade ago, North Korea’s [then] supreme leader Kim Jong-il was the target of mockery and an on-screen assassination in the film “Team America: World Police.” That movie, which went on to gross over $50 million worldwide, was likely just as tasteless to North Korea, but wasn’t met with nearly as much blowback as “The Interview.”