Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said Tuesday that Seth Rogen’s North Korea farce “will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day.” He said Sony also is continuing its efforts to release the film on more platforms and in more theaters. “We have never given up on releasing The Interview,” said Lynton. “While we hope this is only the first step of the film’s release, we are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech.”
NEW YORK (AP) — Sony Pictures Entertainment announced Tuesday a limited theatrical release of “The Interview” beginning Thursday, putting back into the theaters the comedy that prompted an international incident with North Korea and outrage over its cancelled release.
Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said Tuesday that Seth Rogen’s North Korea farce “will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day.” He said Sony also is continuing its efforts to release the film on more platforms and in more theaters.
“We have never given up on releasing `The Interview,'” said Lynton. “While we hope this is only the first step of the film’s release, we are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech.”
Moviegoers celebrated the abrupt change of fortune for a film that appeared doomed, as “The Interview” began popping up in the listings of a handful of independent theaters Tuesday, including the Alamo Drafthouse in Texas and Atlanta’s Plaza Theater.
“The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn’t give up!” said Rogen on Twitter.
Rogen, who stars in the film he co-directed with Evan Goldberg, hadn’t made any public comments throughout the surreal ordeal that began with hackers leaking Sony emails and culminated in a confrontation between the U.S. and North Korea. The FBI has said North Korea was “centrally involved” in the hacking attacks.
“VICTORY!!!!!!!” said James Franco, who co-stars in the film. “The PEOPLE and THE PRESIDENT have spoken.”
A limited release could potentially be followed by expansion into larger multiplex chains, a rollout that has been used in the past for controversial films including “Zero Dark Thirty.” The country’s top chains – Regal, AMC and Cinemark – didn’t immediate comment Tuesday.
North Korea suffered sweeping Internet outages in an apparent attack Monday that followed President Barack Obama’s vows of a response to what he called North Korea’s “cyber vandalism” of Sony. The White House and State Department declined to say whether the U.S. government was responsible.
After hackers last Wednesday threatened terrorist attacks against theaters showing the film, the nation’s major multiplex chains dropped “The Interview.” Sony soon thereafter canceled the film’s release altogether and removed mention of it from its websites.
But that decision drew widespread criticism, including from Obama, who chastised Sony for what he deemed “a mistake” that went against American principles of free speech. George Clooney also led a chorus pressuring for the movie’s release and rallying against what he called corporate self-censorship.
Releasing “The Interview” could potentially cause a response from the hackers, who called themselves the Guardians of Peace. There have been none of the embarrassing data leaks on Sony emails since the movie’s release was delayed. In a message last week to the studio, the hackers said Sony’s data would be safe so long as the film was never distributed.
Independent theaters had shown a stronger appetite to screen “The Interview.” Art House Convergence, which represents independent exhibitors, sent a letter Monday to Sony saying its theaters (comprising about 250 screens) wished to show the film.
In recent days, Sony has been trying to secure digital partners to help distribute “The Interview” either through streaming or video-on-demand. Such a multi-format release would be historic for Hollywood, whose studios have long protected the theatrical release window.
By appearing in as many as several hundred theaters (Sony did not immediately say how many theaters will show the film), “The Interview” will open in far from the wide release originally planned in some 3,000 theaters.