Hollywood filmmakers and actors voiced outrage on Wednesday after Sony Pictures pulled the release of North Korea parody 'The Interview', following threats from hackers who waged a massive cyberattack on the movie studio.
Actors Ben Stiller, Steve Carell, Rob Lowe, late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel and filmmaker Judd Apatow, all friends of 'The Interview' stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, criticised the decision made by movie theatres and Sony.
Lowe, who has a cameo in the film, tweeted "Wow. Everyone caved. The hackers won. An utter and complete victory for them."
Raunchy satire 'The Interview' follows a hapless TV host (Franco) and producer (Rogen) who score an interview with the elusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and are recruited by the CIA to assassinate him.
Sony Pictures cancelled the film's 25 December release as major US theatre chains decided to postpone screenings after hackers forced an apparently unprecedented change of plans for a major movie release.
Kimmel, writing on Twitter, called the decision "an un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent".
Stiller, who directed and starred in 2001's 'Zoolander', about a male fashion model brainwashed to assassinate a fictional prime minister of Malaysia, called 'The Interview' cancellation "a threat to freedom of expression".
Carell, who has starred alongside Rogen in numerous comedies, said, "Sad day for creative expression," with the hashtag #feareatsthesoul.
Both Carell and Stiller also tweeted pictures of Charlie Chaplin playing his Adolf Hitler parody in 1940 film 'The Great Dictator'.
Franco and Rogen, who directed, produced and wrote 'The Interview' with filmmaking partner Evan Goldberg, did not make any public statements on Wednesday 17 December.
A US government source said investigators had determined North Korea was behind last month's cyber attack on Sony Corp's movie studio, leaking documents that drew global headlines.
One Texas cinema chain, Alamo Drafthouse, said early on Wednesday it planned to show 'The Interview', even as other theatres bailed.
When Sony pulled 'The Interview', the chain said it would screen at its Dallas-Fort Worth theatre the 2004 puppet-comedy 'Team America: World Police' in which a US paramilitary force tries to foil a plot by then-North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
Sony said it had no plans to release 'The Interview' on DVD, video-on-demand or online streaming platforms, despite support of the idea from fans on social media.