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Celebrities rage on Twitter after Sony cancels 'The Interview'

Stars ranging from Jimmy Kimmel to Rob Lowe are upset over Sony's reaction to cyberterrorists threatening violence on the movie's release day.

Hollywood is aghast that Sony decided to keep "The Interview" out of sight. Sony Pictures/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

"The Interview" seems destined to become the streaming hit of the century -- now that Sony Pictures has canceled the theatrical release under threats of violence from hackers.

For some in Hollywood, though, Sony's decision about the Seth Rogen-James Franco movie is akin to historical calamity. It's apparently comparable to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returning from meeting German Chancellor Adolf Hitler and declaring that he's a very nice man.

Actor Rob Lowe tweeted on Wednesday: "Saw @Sethrogen at JFK. Both of us have never seen or heard of anything like this. Hollywood has done Neville Chamberlain proud today."

The comedy about assassinating North Korea's leader was set for a December 25 release before hackers threatened physical violence in theaters. The same hackers -- possibly linked to North Korea -- have already released reams of financial documents, employee data and executive emails found on Sony's servers.

Lowe wasn't alone in his contempt. Although Rogen and Franco were oddly -- or perhaps not so oddly -- silent on Twitter about the decision, many of their fellow celebrities used tweets to rail and wail at the decision of movie theaters -- and then Sony itself -- to suppress "The Interview."

Actor Ben Stiller, for example, offered: "Really hard to believe this is the response to a threat to freedom of expression here in America."

Director and producer Judd Apatow wrote many upset tweets, including: "I think it is disgraceful that these theaters are not showing The Interview. Will they pull any movie that gets an anonymous threat now?"

He added: "What if an anonymous person got offended by something an executive at Coke said. Will we all have to stop drinking Coke?"

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel tweeted his displeasure: "An un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent."

Documentarian Michael Moore will surely make a movie about all this called "Sony and Me." But first he tweeted: "Dear Sony Hackers: now that u run Hollywood, I'd also like less romantic comedies, fewer Michael Bay movies and no more Transformers."

Some, though, are surely seeing certain ironies emerging. Comedian and writer Michael Ian Black first tweeted: "Worried about the prospects for my new film, 'Abbot and Costello F*** North Korea's Mom.'"

Then he added: "To retaliate, we should refuse to show all the comedies coming out of North Korea."

The famously measured comedian Steve Carell tweeted: "Sad day for creative expression" and added the hashtag #feareatsthesoul.

Some stars were busily retweeting that a Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse movie theater will screen "Team America: World Police" as a substitute for "The Interview." Should you not remember "Team America: World Police," Kim Jong-un's father appears in it as a puppet. There are currently no known threats against this movie.

It's easy to conclude that Sony is now the puppet of cyberterrorists. Some might find it slightly odd, though, that a Japanese company stands accused of being un-American.

One can't help thinking that, despite all the obvious and well-meaning philosophical criticism, Sony might also have finances in making its decision.

I wonder how many of the celebrities currently bemoaning this decision (however rightfully) will put their money where their image is and refuse to work with Sony again.

Doesn't fear eat all our souls to a greater or lesser extent?