NYC premiere of Rogen film canceled as threats fly

Sony Hackers Threaten Theaters Screening 'The Interview'

NEW YORK (AP) -- Threats of violence against movie theaters. The New York premiere of "The Interview" canceled. Leaks of thousands more private emails. Lawsuits by former employees that could cost tens of millions in damages.

The fallout from the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack that began four weeks ago exploded Tuesday after the shadowy group calling themselves Guardians of Peace escalated their attack beyond corporate espionage and threatened moviegoers with violence reminiscent of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

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NYC premiere of Rogen film canceled as threats fly
(L-R) Actors James Franco, Charles Rahi Chun and Seth Rogen arrive for the premiere of the film 'The Interview' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, California on December 11, 2014. The film, starring US actors Seth Rogen and James Franco, is a comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate its leader Kim Jong-Un, played by Randall Park. North Korea has vowed 'merciless retaliation' against what it calls a 'wanton act of terror' -- although it has denied involvement in a massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures, the studio behind the film. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
The entrance of Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California is seen December 16, 2014. 'Guardians of Peace' hackers invoked the 9/11 attacks in their most chilling threat yet against Sony Pictures, warning the Hollywood studio not to release a film which has angered North Korea. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
The entrance of Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California is seen December 16, 2014. 'Guardians of Peace' hackers invoked the 9/11 attacks in their most chilling threat yet against Sony Pictures, warning the Hollywood studio not to release a film which has angered North Korea. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Seth Rogen and James Franco talk about their controversial action-comedy 'The Interview,' on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, airing Tuesday, DEC. 16 (7-9am, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 15: James Franco and Seth Rogen take part in a SiriusXM Town Hall with Seth Rogen and James Franco with host Lisa Lampinelli on SiriusXM's Entertainment Weekly Radio channel at the SiriusXM Studios on December 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 15: Seth Rogen takes part in a SiriusXM Town Hall with Seth Rogen and James Franco with host Lisa Lampinelli on SiriusXM's Entertainment Weekly Radio channel at the SiriusXM Studios on December 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 11: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was processed using digital filters) James Franco and Seth Rogen arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of 'The Interview' held at The Theatre at Ace Hotel Downtown LA on December 11, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage)
Movie posters for the premiere of the film 'The Interview' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, California on December 11, 2014. The film, starring US actors Seth Rogen and James Franco, is a comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate its leader Kim Jong-Un, played by Randall Park. North Korea has vowed 'merciless retaliation' against what it calls a 'wanton act of terror' -- although it has denied involvement in a massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures, the studio behind the film. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Security is seen outside The Theatre at Ace Hotel before the premiere of the film 'The Interview' in Los Angeles, California on December 11, 2014. The film, starring US actors Seth Rogen and James Franco, is a comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate its leader Kim Jong-Un, played by Randall Park. North Korea has vowed 'merciless retaliation' against what it calls a 'wanton act of terror' -- although it has denied involvement in a massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures, the studio behind the film. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Heavy security is seen outside The Theatre at Ace Hotel before the premiere of the film 'The Interview' in Los Angeles, California on December 11, 2014. The film, starring Us actors Seth Rogen and James Franco, is a comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate its leader Kim Jong-Un, played by Randall Park. North Korea has vowed 'merciless retaliation' against what it calls a 'wanton act of terror' -- although it has denied involvement in a massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures, the studio behind the film. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
TAIYUAN, CHINA - DECEMBER 18: (CHINA OUT) A woman poses with Kim Jong-un's figure at a shopping mall on December 18, 2014 in Taiyuan, Shanxi province of China. A shopping mall held a public welfare art show of famous stars' wax figures wearing face masks to call on people to protect environment. All visitors to enter the wax figure museum should wear face masks. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
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The Department of Homeland Security said there was "no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters," but noted it was still analyzing messages from the group, dubbed GOP. The warning did prompt law enforcement in New York and Los Angeles to address measures to ramp up security.

Those security fears spurred Sony to allow theater chains to cancel showings of the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy "The Interview," that has been a focus of the hackers' mission to bring down Sony.

A spokesperson for Landmark Sunshine cinemas said the New York premiere of "The Interview," scheduled for Thursday night, has been canceled. Carmike Cinemas, which operates 247 theaters across the country, was the first to cancel its planned showings of the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It remains to be seen if other chains will follow suit.

GOP also released a trove of data files including 32,000 emails to and from Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton in what it called the beginning of a "Christmas gift."

And two former Sony film production workers filed lawsuits alleging the Culver City, California company waited too long to notify nearly 50,000 employees that data such as Social Security numbers, salaries and medical records had been stolen.

The filing follows another lawsuit this week from two other former Sony employees accusing the studio of being negligent by not bolstering its defenses against hackers before the attack. It claims emails and other leaked information show that Sony's information-technology department and its top lawyer believed its security system was vulnerable to attack, but that company did not act on those warnings. Sony potentially faces tens of millions of dollars in damages from a class-action lawsuit, said Jonathan Handel, an entertainment law professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.

In "The Interview," Rogen and Franco star as television journalists involved in a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Speculation about a North Korean link to the Sony hacking has centered on that country's angry denunciation of the film. Over the summer, North Korea warned that the film's release would be an "act of war that we will never tolerate." It said the U.S. will face "merciless" retaliation.

The film's New York premiere is scheduled for Thursday at Manhattan's Landmark Sunshine, and it is expected to hit theaters nationwide on Christmas Day. It premiered in Los Angeles last week.

But on Tuesday Rogen and Franco pulled out of all media appearances, canceling a Buzzfeed Q&A and Rogen's planned guest spot Thursday on "Late Night With Seth Meyers." A representative for Rogen said he had no comment. A spokeswoman for Franco didn't respond to queries Tuesday.

The FBI said it is aware of the GOP's threats and "continues to work collaboratively with our partners to investigate this matter." FBI director James Comey last week said that investigators are still trying to determine who is responsible for the hack.

The New York Police Department, after coordinating with the FBI and Sony, plans to beef up security at the Manhattan premiere, said John Miller, the NYPD's top counterterrorism official.

"Having read through the threat material myself, it's actually not crystal clear whether it's a cyber response that they are threatening or whether it's a physical attack," Miller said. "That's why we're continuing to evaluate the language of it, and also the source of it. I think our primary posture is going to be is going to have a police presence and a response capability that will reassure people who may have heard about this and have concerns."

Following a commission meeting earlier Tuesday, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said his department takes the hackers' threats "very seriously" and will be taking extra precautions during the holidays at theaters. The National Association of Theatre Owners had no comment on the developing situation. Neither Sony nor representatives from individual theater chains, including Carmike, responded to requests for comment.

Since the hack surfaced late last month, everything from financial figures to salacious emails between top Sony executives has been dumped online.

The nearly 32,000 emails to and from Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Lynton leaked Tuesday include information about casting decisions and total costs for upcoming films, release schedules for Sony films through 2018 and corporate financial records, such as royalties from iTunes, Spotify and Pandora music services. They include information about new electronics devices such as DVD players and cellphones. They also include budget figures for the Motion Picture Association of America, of which Sony is a member, and at least one email about a senior Sony executive who left the company. The emails also include banal messages about public appearances, tennis matches, home repairs, dinner invitations and business introductions.

In their warning Tuesday, the hackers suggested Sony employees make contact via several disposable email addresses ending in yopmail.com. Frenchman Frederic Leroy, who started up the yopmail site in 2004, was surprised to learn the Sony hackers were using yopmail addresses. He said there was no way he could identify the users.

"I cannot see the identities of people using the address ... there is no name, no first name," he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. He said yopmail is used around the world but there are "hundreds and hundreds" of other disposable email sites.

Leroy, who lives in Barr, outside Strasbourg in eastern France, said he heard about the Sony hackers yesterday on the radio but knows nothing more. He said he has not been contacted by any authorities.

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NYC premiere of Rogen film canceled as threats fly
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Actors James Franco (L) and Seth Rogen arrive for the premiere of the film 'The Interview' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, California on December 11, 2014. The film, starring US actors Seth Rogen and James Franco, is a comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate its leader Kim Jong-Un, played by Randall Park. North Korea has vowed 'merciless retaliation' against what it calls a 'wanton act of terror' -- although it has denied involvement in a massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures, the studio behind the film. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Director David Ayer, actors Michael Pena, Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman attend the press conference for 'Fury' during the 58th BFI London Film Festival at The Corinthia Hotel on October 19, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for BFI)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Brad Pitt attends the closing night European Premiere gala red carpet arrivals for 'Fury' during the 58th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square on October 19, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/WireImage)
Washington, DC, USA. 15th Oct, 2014. Actor Brad Pitt poses with soldiers at the world premiere of "The Fury" at the Newseum on October 15, 2014 in Washington DC. © Debby Wong/Alamy Live News
NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 20: Quvenzhane Wallis, actress from the movie 'Annie' attends a Turnaround Arts New Orleans Event at ReNew Cultural Arts Academy on November 20, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Getty Images for Columbia Pictures)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 1911' - The night continued by celebrating the new, contemporary spin on the classic show 'Annie,' coming to movie theaters December 19th. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie, talented young dancers joined her to perform a dance to 'It's The Hard-Knock Life,' choreographed by Mandy Moore, in the two-part finale, beginning MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 1911' - The night continued by celebrating the new, contemporary spin on the classic show 'Annie,' coming to movie theaters December 19th. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie, talented young dancers joined her to perform a dance to 'It's The Hard-Knock Life,' choreographed by Mandy Moore, in the two-part finale, beginning MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 1911' - The night continued by celebrating the new, contemporary spin on the classic show 'Annie,' coming to movie theaters December 19th. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie, talented young dancers joined her to perform a dance to 'It's The Hard-Knock Life,' choreographed by Mandy Moore, in the two-part finale, beginning MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 1911' - The night continued by celebrating the new, contemporary spin on the classic show 'Annie,' coming to movie theaters December 19th. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie, talented young dancers joined her to perform a dance to 'It's The Hard-Knock Life,' choreographed by Mandy Moore, in the two-part finale, beginning MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 1911' - The night continued by celebrating the new, contemporary spin on the classic show 'Annie,' coming to movie theaters December 19th. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie, talented young dancers joined her to perform a dance to 'It's The Hard-Knock Life,' choreographed by Mandy Moore, in the two-part finale, beginning MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 1911' - The night continued by celebrating the new, contemporary spin on the classic show 'Annie,' coming to movie theaters December 19th. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie, talented young dancers joined her to perform a dance to 'It's The Hard-Knock Life,' choreographed by Mandy Moore, in the two-part finale, beginning MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 20: Quvenzhane Wallis, actress from the movie 'Annie' attends a Turnaround Arts New Orleans Event at ReNew Cultural Arts Academy on November 20, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Getty Images for Columbia Pictures)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 20: Quvenzhane Wallis, actress from the movie 'Annie' attends a Turnaround Arts New Orleans Event at ReNew Cultural Arts Academy on November 20, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Getty Images for Columbia Pictures)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 24: Actor Timothy Spall poses with his Best Actor award for his role in the film 'Mr. Turner' as he attends the Palme D'Or Winners photocall during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 24, 2014 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 24: Actor Timothy Spall, winner of the Best Actor award for his role in the film 'Mr. Turner', attends the Palme D'Or Winners photocall during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 24, 2014 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Actress Julianne Moore arrives at AFI FEST 2014 Presented By Audi 'Still Alice' Premiere at Dolby Theatre on November 12, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
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