By Jonathan Davies

Sony Pictures has decided the release of the film 'The Interview' after threats from hackers.

The film, which cost Sony $42m to make, is a fictional tale of two journalists who get an interview with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, but the CIA try to convince them to assassinate him. $42m is nowhere Sony's biggest budget for a film, but it is a considerable amount for a comedy.

Sony had already been the subject of cyber attacks in the past few weeks, but hackers warned that the public to stay away from cinemas if the film was released.

Major cinema chains opted not to screen the film, which was due to be released on 25 December.

'Range of options

The US government said it is considering a "range of options" to respond to the attack, but early indications suggest that the hack came from North Korea. The FBI is leading the investigation, but it could be a number of months before the location of the hackers is confirmed.

"We know that criminals and foreign countries regularly seek to gain access to government and private sector networks - both in the United States and elsewhere," a National Security Council statement said.

"We take very seriously any attempt to threaten or limit artists' freedom of speech or of expression."

'We stand by our film makers

In a statement, Sony said: "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.

"We respect and understand our partners' decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theatre-goers.

"We stand by our film makers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."

'Remember 9/11'

The hackers, who call themselves Guardians of Peace, urged the Sony and the public to remember 9/11.

"Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places [cinemas] at that time," they said.

"Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment."

Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab, said: “The Sony hack is probably the first one that’s been so globally high-profile. The most worrying aspect for me is that this hacker group is threatening to stage terror attacks. I don’t know if there really is a link between this group and terrorists, but the threat does show that politically-motivated hackers may be embracing terrorists’ methods. A merger between groups of hacktivists and traditional terrorist organisation has been a fear of mine for years.

“Of course, such an attack on the entertainment industry is very damaging and costly, but it’s probably not as dangerous as an attack on critical infrastructure. In any case it’s a very strong signal that even the most advanced hi-tech companies are not immune to hacker attacks, and we have to prepare ourselves for very serious and painful attacks in the future. Sadly, it’s not easy to say which industry or company will be the next target.”

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