Hours after it was reported that the four biggest movie theater chains in the United States would not show Seth Rogen and James Franco’s film The Interview, Sony Pictures formally announced that it has decided to cancel the release of the film, which was set to open in theaters on December 25th.

FROM EARLIER: 4 biggest movie theater chains cave to hacker threats, won’t show The Interview

In an official statement, Sony said that even though it made the call the cancel the film’s release, it will still “stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression.” The studio also said it was “extremely disappointed by this outcome.” The studio said that it made its decision to protect “the safety of employees and theater goers.”

Sony decided to cancel the film’s release amid violent threats issued by the mysterious hacker group behind the devastating Sony Pictures hack that has exposed embarrassing internal emails and other sensitive information about the studio.

The Interview, a comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, revolves around two Americans’ inept attempts to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The North Korean government has been issuing loud threats about the film for months and leaked emails have shown that Rogen thought he could appease the regime by making the depiction of Kim’s death in the film less gory by showing fewer burn marks and flaming hair. However, Rogen said he still wanted to keep a scene in which Kim’s head finally exploded.