Top Five Theater Circuits Drop 'The Interview' After Sony Hack

Ed Araquel

North America's largest chains won't be showing the movie

The top five theater circuits in North America have decided not to play Sony's The Interview.

Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment have all decided against showing the film.

"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 said in a statement to THR Wednesday.

AMC released a statement Wednesday as well, stating, "The recent cancellation of The Interview's premiere and publicity appearances by its leading talent, and the overall confusion and uncertainty that has been created in the marketplace, brings into serious doubt whether the movie will open at all next week. At this time, to best enable AMC guests to plan their holiday movie-going with certainty and confidence, AMC is programming its theatres without The Interview."

Cinemark also confirmed Wednesday that the chain had determined that they would not exhibit the film "at this time." And Cineplex, which is based in Canada, said it had decided to "postpone" the movie, with a spokesman saying, "Cineplex takes seriously its commitment to the freedome of artistic expression, but we want to reassure our guests and staff that their safety and security is our number one priority."

Carmike Cinemas confirmed its decision to drop the film on Tuesday. Sony had no immediate comment. 

Several other chains have also announced that they will not be showing the film at this time. Bow Tie Cinemas, based in Connecticut, confirmed earlier today that "saddened and angered by recent threats of terrorism in connection with the movie," it had decided not to present the film out of safety concerns. Classic Cinemas, based in Illinois, also has dropped the movie, explaining in a statement, "We believe holiday moviegoing is a time-honored tradition that should bring loved ones closer together in a safe environment. We feel there is enough uncertainly surround The Interview that the distraction would take away from the spirit and joy of the season." 

On Dec. 16, hackers raised the threat level with an emailed message to reporters invoking the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. But Sony refused to back down from its plans to release the film, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, on Dec. 25. Instead, in discussions with exhibitors, it told the exhibitors it was up to them whether or not they played the movie and that Sony would support whatever decision they made.

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Earlier today, the National Association of Theater Owners, the trade association that represents movie-theater owners nationwide, issued its first statement about the situation. It emphasized that "individual cinema operators may decide to delay exhibition of the movie so that our guests may enjoy a safe holiday movie season experiencing the many other exciting films we have to offer." It also said that its members were working closely with security and law enforcement agencies, saying that the "safety and comfort [of our guests] is and will continue to be a priority for theater owners."

As the charged situation around The Interview has developed, there has been growing concern among both exhibitors and other studio distribution arms that screening The Interview over the holidays might impact the number of moviegoers heading to the multiplex. The Interview's scheduled opening on Christmas Day put it up against such other debuting films as Disney's Into the Woods and Universal's Unbroken.

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