(Adds comments from Los Angeles and New York police, details of
Sony conference call to theater owners)
By Jim Finkle and Mark Hosenball
BOSTON Dec 16 (Reuters) – Two U.S. security officials cast
doubt on a threat against theaters planning to show Sony Corp’s
controversial movie about an assassination of the leader of
North Korea, but police across the country vowed on Tuesday to
take extra precautions.
Sony executives, meanwhile, told theater owners the studio
would not pull the film but added they would not object if
theaters decided to cancel screenings, according to a person
familiar with the discussions.
U.S. security agencies are investigating a hacking group
that published what appear to be more internal emails on Tuesday
and promised a « bitter fate » for those who go to see the movie,
« The Interview », following a cyber attack that severely damaged
movie studio’s network.
An official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) and another U.S. security official said investigations had
found nothing concrete so far to substantiate the threat.
« At this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate
an active plot against movie theaters within the United States, »
the DHS official said.
Police departments in Los Angeles and New York said they
were take the warning seriously.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told a news conference
that officers would be taking extra precautions to make sure
movie theaters were « as safe as we can make them. » He said the
threats were « done to put terror » into U.S. audiences.
« People should not be afraid to go to the movies in Los
Angeles; we have no credible threat, » Beck said.
John Miller, deputy commissioner of intelligence and
counter-terrorism at the New York Police Department, said the
situation was similar to « some of the Bin Laden films, other
controversial films where there’ve been threats » in the past.
A Sony spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the threat.
Sony is already reeling from the disclosures in documents
released by the hackers, which have publicly exposed internal
discussions important to the company’s future.
Reuters has not been able to verify the authenticity of the
more than 100 gigabytes of documents that have been distributed
via the Internet. The company has confirmed that at least some
are authentic, apologizing for the loss of sensitive employee
data and some comments made by executives.
« The Interview, » starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, is
scheduled to debut in U.S. and Canadian theaters on Dec. 25.
BuzzFeed reported that Franco and Rogen had canceled all
planned media appearances on Tuesday, the day they were
scheduled to appear at a BuzzFeed event. Representatives for the
actors did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The newest file published on Tuesday appeared to be emails
from Sony studio chief Michael Lynton. Several rounds of leaks
of emails have prompted apologies for disparaging remarks that
executives made about celebrities. The leaks have included a
James Bond script, high-quality digital copies of films that
have yet to be released and private employee data.
Sony has also been sued by self-described former employees
who accuse Sony of failing to properly protect their personal
data. Sony declined comment on the lawsuit.
(Additional reporting by Aron Ranen, Piya Sinha Roy and Dan
Levine; Writing by Peter Henderson; Editing by Grant McCool and