Sony Pictures’ decision to cancel the release of its madcap comedy about North Korea after threats from hackers has caused consternation in the movie world and triggered concerns about freedom of expression.

“The Interview”, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen and depicting a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, had been due to hit US cinemas on December 25.

But after warnings from the so-called GOP (Guardians of Peace) hacking group — invoking the September 11, 2001 attacks — a number of US cinema chains cancelled plans to screen the film.

As more chains confirmed they would follow suit, Sony on Wednesday threw in the towel and pulled the film, in a decision described by former long-time Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob as “onerous… both for the studio and freedom of expression”.

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