— -- As major movie chains moved to pull "The Interview" from their holiday lineups after threats from the Sony Corp. hackers, Sony has decided to shelve the film.
"In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film 'The Interview,' we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release," the company said in a statement. "We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers."
The company added that it stands by the filmmakers and "their right to free expression."
"Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film," a Sony spokesperson said when asked about a digital or VOD release.
The decision by Sony came after all the biggest chains including AMC and Regal announced Wednesday they wouldn't show the film. On Tuesday, Sony Corp. hackers warned of an impending attack on theaters that showed the film, which depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
"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 in our theatres," Regal, which has nearly 600 theaters in 44 states, said in a statement today.
AMC followed suit, also stating the chain's holiday lineup would move forward "without 'The Interview.'"
Earlier, the Bow Tie chain released a statement pulling the film, saying the company is "saddened and angered by recent threats of terrorism" and that its mission is "to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests and employees." Cineplex Entertainment, which has 162 theaters, also said today that it will “postpone” showing of the film.
The comedy-horror film was set for a Dec. 25 release.
The moves came shortly after Sony told theaters they do not have to show "The Interview," after the group claiming responsibility for stealing troves of Sony executives' emails posted a message on Pastebin apparently threatening attacks on the theaters where the movie will be played, sources said.
The Department of Homeland Security said the threat is not backed up by any "credible intelligence," but sources told ABC News that the Sony hack and matters tied to it are being investigated not just as a criminal cyber matter but as a national security matter by the nation's law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
A prime suspect is the North Korean regime, and sources say this hack has shown an unprecedented capacity and ability to directly harm a major corporation.
Last week, the FBI held a private meeting in New York with reps from across the entertainment industry to brief them on cyber-related threats against them. The Sony hack was not the only topic discussed, but it was a major one, sources said.
"Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like," Sony said in its statement.