Guardians of Peace, the hackers that leaked Sony Pictures' secret data made ominous threats against movie theatres playing the film "The Interview". Amid threats of violence that referred to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the New York premiere of the comedy film was cancelled.

The hack and its backlash have hit Sony Pictures quite hard. The leaked e-mails, salary statements, aliases used by famous actors, scripts of movies in the pipeline and digital prints of movies that haven't hit theatres yet; have kept the entertainment conglomerate in the news map for the last couple of weeks.

Now, however, the self-titled Guardians of Peace have taken their attack beyond mere corporate espionage and are threatening moviegoers from watching the Seth Rogen- James Franco comedy that is hoping for a Christmas release. The violence expressed in the threat is reminiscent of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, notes Star Tribune.

The group has also leaked a trove of data files including about 8,000 emails from Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton's inbox. The data dump was what the hackers called the beginning of a "Christmas Gift". The gift came with a warning that people should stay away from places where "The Interview" will be shown. Invoking 9/11, GoP also urged people to evacuate their homes if it is located near theatres showing the film.

James Franco and Seth Rogen, stars of 'The Interview' at the Los Angeles premiere of the movie
James Franco and Seth Rogen, stars of 'The Interview' at the Los Angeles premiere of the movie.Reuters

It is amid these threats that the New York showing of the film, which was premiered in Los Angeles on 16 December, was cancelled. A spokesperson for New York's Landmark Sunshine cinemas announced that the premiere scheduled for Thursday night has been cancelled.

Carmike Cinemas, which has a chain of 247 theatres running across the US, was the first one to cancel all planned shows of "The Interview". It remains to be seen if any other theatres will follow suit.

The Department of Homeland Security has revealed that although there was "no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theatres," it is still analyzing messages from the so-called Guardians of Peace.

Meanwhile, two former employees of Sony have filed a lawsuit against the entertainment giant for taking too long to notify its nearly 50,000 employees that their Social Security numbers, salaries and medical records had been stolen. This lawsuit comes a little after another one filed by two other former Sony employees, who accused the studio of being negligent in defending their systems against hackers.