The film premiere of the upcoming Sony Pictures movie "The Interview" has been canceled in New York after a group of hackers threatened an attack reminiscent of 9/11 in a series of emails. The hackers have protested against the comedy, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, which depicts an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
"Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you'd better leave)," the hackers warn in one the emails, sent to various media organizations.
The group, which calls itself "Guardians of Peace," has targeted Sony and released a series of emails and data stolen from the entertainment group.
"Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment," the hackers added.
The New York Times reported that the Department of Homeland Security has said there was "no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot" against cinemas, but indicated that it still investigating the messages from the group.
Landmark, the cinema chain that was scheduled to host the New York premiere of "The Interview," confirmed that it canceled the showing. Carmike Cinemas, which operates 278 venues across the country, has also canceled planned screenings.
Look Cinemas CEO Tom Stephenson has vowed that his company will show the movie, however, if Sony decides it wants to play it.
"Sony has a right to make the movie, we have a right to play it and censorship in general is a bad thing," Stephenson said.
It is not yet clear on whose behalf the hackers are operating on, though the government of North Korea had promised a "merciless counter-measure" if the comedy was to be released.
"The enemies have gone beyond the tolerance limit in their despicable moves to dare hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership," a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said back in June.
He added that "The Interview" is "the most undisguised terrorism and a war action to deprive the service personnel and people of the DPRK of their mental mainstay and bring down its social system."
Kim's government has denied direct involvement in the hacking attack, but said that it supports such a response.
Earlier this week, the hackers promised a "Christmas gift" for Sony, with the studio reportedly being forced to put on hold the production of several films in light of the attack.
"The gift will be larger quantities of data. And it will be more interesting. The gift will surely give you much more pleasure and put Sony Pictures into the worst state," the hackers said.
"We have already given our clear demand to the management team of SONY, however, they have refused to accept," another message read. "Do carry out our demand if you want to escape us. And, Stop immediately showing the movie of terrorism which can break the regional peace and cause the War!"
Sony told American cinemas that they will not object if they decide not to show the film.