US government monitored North Korean hackers since 2010
The script from controversial film The Interview has leaked online ahead of the release of the North Korean-focused film Sony Pictures

Sony Pictures has announced that following three weeks of leaks and threats it won't release The Interview on Christmas Day.

In a statement Sony Pictures said:

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 company added that it "has no further release plans for the film" meaning that it is unlikely to release the film online or on DVD.

The surprise announcement comes after several cinemas in the US said they would not show the film after the hackers threatened violence against those who attended the film.

As Sony announced its decision, US intelligence officials said it had concluded that North Korea was "centrally involved" in the attack on Sony Pictures according to sources speaking to The New York Times. The White House is still deliberating whether or not to blame North Korea publicly for the unprecedented attack.

Sony Pictures has been reeling from multiple embarrassing and financially damaging leaks following a devastating cyber-attack against its systems in November 2014. The identity of the attackers is still unknown, with the group simply going by the moniker Guardians of Peace.

Sony Pictures has called in the FBI and security experts Mandiant to help investigate the attack but while many are pointing the finger at North Korea, there is no conclusive proof yet that this is the case.

The attack is linked to the release of The Interview, a film which pokes fun at the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, and was due for release on Christmas Day in the US. The hackers have called it a "movie of terrorism".

The hackers called on Sony Pictures not to release the movie, and on 16 December gave their sternest warning yet when they threatened violence against anyone going to see the film in cinemas upon release.

While the Department of Homeland Security has said there is no credible threat in this warning, the premiere of the film in New York has been cancelled and several cinema chains have said they will not be showing it.