After weeks of embarrassing reveals by unknown computer hackers who cracked into Sony Pictures, it was a terrorist threat with references to another 9/11 that prompted movie theater chains to pull back from the release of The Interview, and now a full cancellation from Sony.

Sony released this statement just this afternoon:

“In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.” 

“Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

The Interview, a comedy directed and written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, stars James Franco as a TV host who’s convinced by the CIA to go with Rogen to North Korea and assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un under the guise of an exclusive TV interview. It was to open nationwide on Christmas.

North Korea wasn’t laughing.

Neither were the hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace, who broke into Sony’s databases and revealed all sorts of embarrassing email communications among executives and with directors, producers and stars.

On Tuesday, the hackers issued a more specific threat: “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”

Earlier today, the top five American movie theater chains — Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment — decided not to screen the movie on Christmas and didn’t announce a new release date.

Who knew joking about assassinating a world leader could backfire on the jokesters? Ahem.

At this rate, Rogen and Franco would be better off hosting private PPV screenings in homes and backyards, with invites only by word-of-mouth secret passwords.

Previously: The official teaser trailer for The Interview.