DECEMBER 17 UPDATE: Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cineplex Entertainment and Cinemark are understood to have joined Carmike Cinemas’ boycott of the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy in light of ambiguous threats by the hackers believed to be behind the Sony cyber attack.

The move comes as the National Association Of Theatre Owners (NATO) weighed in on the matter for the first time and concerns grew about the impact of film-going on the weekend of December 25, when Sony plans to go ahead with its wide release of The Interview.

It also remained to be seen at time of writing how the episode might impact on the film’s distribution through Sony Pictures Releasing International. Sony had not returned calls to clarify that point at time of writing.

“We are encouraged that the authorities have made progress in their investigation, and we look forward to the time when the responsible criminals are apprehended,” the NATO statement said.

“Until that happens, individual cinema operators may decide to delay exhibition of the movie so that our guests may enjoy a safe holiday movie season experiencing the many other exciting films we have to offer.”

Bow Tie Cinemas, which operates 60 sites across the US, is also understood to have refused to carry the film, which follows two celebrity interviewers who become embroiled in an assassination attempt on North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un.

Sony is understood to be going ahead with the release and told exhibitors this week they were free to decide whether or not to carry The Interview.

US authorities have said the threats lack credibility and urged film-goers not to boycott cinemas.

The hacks appear to stem from outrage over the subject matter of the film and so far have exposed a number of confidential transactional data files and highly embarrassing email exchanges involving Sony top brass — with the promise of more revelations to come.

Disneys’ Into The Woods, Paramount’s The Gambler and Universal’s Unbroken are also set to debut on December 25.