Author Paulo Coelho offers US$100,000 for North Korea spoof The Interview

Finland's President Sauli Niinisto (left) speaking with Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho on Oct 7, 2014, during the opening of the Frankfurt Book fair. Coelho offered on Thursday to pay Sony US$100,000 (S$131,400) for rights to North Korean parody film
Finland's President Sauli Niinisto (left) speaking with Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho on Oct 7, 2014, during the opening of the Frankfurt Book fair. Coelho offered on Thursday to pay Sony US$100,000 (S$131,400) for rights to North Korean parody film The Interview. -- PHOTO: AFP

BRAZIL (AFP) - Brazilian author Paulo Coelho offered Thursday to pay Sony US$100,000 (S$131,400) for rights to The Interview, protesting the company's decision to scrap the North Korean parody film amid chilling threats from hackers.

Sony Pictures cancelled the Dec 25 release of the film after after major theatre chains in the United States and Canada said they would not screen the madcap comedy in which two television journalists are recruited to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Skittishness about attending the movie followed threats by a hacking group calling itself GOP (Guardians of Peace), which invoked the Sept 11, 2001 attacks in an ominous warning to any moviegoers planning to see the film.

Sony's decision sparked protest from free speech advocates and foreign policy hawks.

"I offer @SonyPictures 100k for the rights of The Interview I will post it free on my blog. Pls get in touch with me via @SonyPicturesBr," Coelho wrote on his Twitter account.

He later added: "Offer to @SonyPictures stands till Fri 12:00 AM. You recover 0.01% of the budget, & I can say NO to terrorist threats."

The author of popular novel The Alchemist told Brazil newspaper O Globo the cancelled release "set a terrible precedent".

"It's a threat that works. It's like the terrorists win," he said, likening the move to when British-Indian author Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" was burned and banned in Muslim countries, but said "this is even more serious".

In addition to the threat against cinema-goers, Sony was hacked and a trove of embarrassing emails, scripts and other internal communications - including information about employee salaries and health records - was leaked.

North Korea has denied involvement in the brazen Nov 24 cyber attack against Sony, which experts say could have been carried out by disgruntled Sony workers or by supporters of a foreign power.