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On Wednesday, Bow Tie Cinemas became the second theater chain to pull The Interview, saying it won’t show the controversial Sony film after hackers threatened a 9/11-style attack on theaters that screened the movie.
Saying the company is “saddened and angered by recent threats of terrorism in connection with the movie,” the chain said it decided not to show The Interview for safety reasons.
“It is our mission to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests and employees,” Bow Tie said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “Given that the source and credibility of these threats is unknown at the time of this announcement, we have decided after careful consideration not to open The Interview on Dec. 25, 2014, as originally planned. We hope that those responsible for this act are swiftly identified and brought to justice.”
Carmike Cinemas said Tuesday night that it was pulling The Interview. Bow Tie is a Northeast theater chain, with 55 locations in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia and Colorado.
Sony Pictures had previously told exhibitors who had booked The Interview that it planned to move forward with the movie’s release but that they were free not to show the film and the studio would support them in whatever decision they made. The Interview is set to hit theaters on Christmas Day.
On Tuesday, an anonymous email claiming to come from the Guardians of Peace organization behind the Sony hack seemed to threaten physical attacks on theaters that screened the movie. Citing 9/11, the hackers issued a warning, writing, “We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places The Interview be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.” While the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that it has found no evidence of an active plot against movie theaters in the U.S., the threat has raised concerns among exhibitors and other studios.
According to some insiders, exhibitors are wary of becoming liable if they show the movie and any violence occurs.
The discussions have also involved requests from theater owners that Sony provide heavy security if they do go ahead and play the film. At the same time, some exhibitors felt that Sony was throwing the decision about whether or not to show the movie into their laps when the studio itself should be making that call. However, Sony insisted it is not abandoning plans to release the movie, although it remains to be seen how wide a theatrical release the film will now have. Sony representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
The situation is also raising concerns among the studios that the threat of violence could keep some moviegoers away from the multiplex over the lucrative holiday moviegoing period. Los Angeles Police Department chief Charlie Beck said, “We take those threats very seriously, and we will take extra precautions during the holidays and at theaters.”
“This is bad for everyone. This will stop people from going to theaters, and that affects all of us,” said one source at a rival studio. Another producer suggested that, given the latest developments, Sony should pull The Interview, saying, “If somebody called a bomb threat for a concert, and it was credible, you’d have to cancel or postpone the concert.”
Carmike is a much larger chain than Bow Tie, with the Columbus, Ga.-based exhibitor operating 278 theaters in 41 states, but there are few Carmike theaters in the New York City metro area.
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