Sony cancels Christmas Day release of ‘The Interview’ amid threats

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UPDATE as of 3:25 p.m.: (CNN) -- U.S. investigators have evidence that hackers stole the computer credentials of a system administrator to get access to Sony's computer system, allowing them broad access, U.S. officials briefed on the investigation told CNN on Thursday. The hackers' ability to gain access to the passwords of a top-level IT employee allowed them to have "keys to the entire building," one official said. The U.S. government is expected to publicly blame North Korea for the cyberattack as early as Friday.

SAN DIEGO - The U.S. is ready to blame North Korea for the mega hack on Sony Pictures, as the studio said Wednesday it would cancel next week's planned release of its controversial comedy "The Interview."

U.S. investigators say an announcement pinning the blame on hackers working for the Pyongyang regime could come as soon as Thursday.

Celebrities react to Sony's canceled release of 'The Interview'

Because of the North Korean regime's tight control of the Internet in the reclusive country, U.S. officials believe the hack was ordered directly by the country's leadership.

North Korea experts say the country has spent its scarce resources on building up a unit called "Bureau 121" to carry out cyber attacks.

Earlier Wednesday, Sony pulled the film, which depicts the assassination of North Korea's leader, following a threat that people should avoid going to theaters where "The Interview" is playing.

The country's major theater companies had said they had decided to postpone or cancel next week's showing.

"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," Sony said in its first statement on the matter.

"Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. ... We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie. ... We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."

The comedy was scheduled to come out on Christmas Day.

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