The Sony hackers are threatening an attack on people who go out to see The Interview, writing in a message that they "recommend you to keep yourself distant" from movie theaters and other screening locations. The hackers previously promised to deliver a "Christmas gift," and while that originally sounded like another trove of leaked data, they are now implying that it may be an attack. "Warning[.] 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," the note says. The hackers also reference 9/11 in making the threat.
The full note reads:
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.
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.
(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
All the world will denounce the SONY.
The threat was included alongside the release of another set of emails, this time said to be those of Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. Because the hackers post this information anonymously and are contacting reporters through reusable email addresses, it is possible that a separate party is behind this threat. However, that seems unlikely. The communications have been consistent, and it should be clear soon whether the leaked emails are genuine, confirming the authenticity of this note.
Homeland Security says that it has no real evidence to suggest that these threats will be carried out. "We are still analyzing the credibility of these statements, but at this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States," the department says in an email to Variety.
The film premiered in Los Angeles last week, and the LAPD says that it will be increasing security around theaters throughout the holidays. "We take those threats very seriously and we will take extra precautions during the holidays and at theaters," LAPD chief Charlie Beck tells The Wrap. Hours after the threats were published, and after Sony said it "wouldn't object" to movie theaters pulling their showings of the movie, Landmark Theatres made the decision to cancel The Interview's New York premiere.
North Korea has denied involvement
It's widely suspected that North Korea has played a role in these attacks, with evidence pointing in that direction as well. However, North Korea has denied any involvement, and it's possible that the evidence ultimately won't be convincing enough to pin the hack on it. Even so, it's been made quite clear that North Korea is unhappy with Sony over of its work on The Interview, a comedy about an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un that ends with his potentially graphic death. The film is planned for a Christmas day release.
The attack on Sony began in late November, when the company's computer system's were shut down worldwide. A group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" has taken credit for the attack, and over the past week, they've begun to release stolen Sony data, including the emails of top executives. Those emails have included everything from work on upcoming films to schemes to disrupt Google and the open internet as a means of protecting their copyright. That's proven to be quite a headache for Sony. Aside from its plans being made public, many of the emails have also been quite embarrassing for its top employees. Around 47,000 social security numbers were also released, and Sony is now being sued for failing to protect that data.
Update December 16th, 11:40PM ET: This story has been updated to include a statement from Homeland Security, a statement from the LAPD, and news of the cancelation of the New York premiere of The Interview.