BOSTON - Two US security officials cast doubt on a threat against theatres 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 theatre owners the studio would not pull the film but added they would not object if theatres decided to cancel screenings, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
US 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 US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and another US 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 theatres 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 theatres were "as safe as we can make them." He said the threats were "done to put terror" into US 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, apologising 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 US and Canadian theatres on Dec. 25.
BuzzFeed reported that Franco and Rogen had cancelled 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.