Moviegoers will be able to see "The Interview" after all. Sony announced on Tuesday that "The Interview" will have a "limited theatrical release" in the United States on Christmas Day.
"We have never given up on releasing 'The Interview' and we're excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day," Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment, said in a statement. "At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.
"I want to thank our talent on 'The Interview' and our employees, who have worked tirelessly through the many challenges we have all faced over the last month," Lynton added. "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."
Following terror threats made by hackers against theaters that planned to show "The Interview," Sony had reportedly told theater owners they could pull the film at their discretion. Last week, after major chains such as AMC Entertainment, Regal Entertainment, Cinemark, Cineplex Entertainment and Carmike Cinemas decided against screening "The Interview," Sony yanked the comedy from the release schedule. In the days since, the studio also deleted the film's social media accounts.
"I think actually the unfortunate part is in this instance the president, the press and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened," Lynton said in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria on Friday, soon after Obama spoke out. "We do not own movie theaters. We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters. So, to sort of rehearse for a moment the sequence of events, we experienced the worst cyber-attack in American history and persevered for three and a half weeks under enormous stress and enormous difficulty. All with the effort of trying to keep our business up and running and get the movie out to the public."
In a statement released following Lynton's interview, Sony reiterated that the theaters had forced its hand: "The decision not to move forward with the Dec. 25 theatrical release of 'The Interview' was made as a result of the majority of the nation’s theater owners choosing not to screen the film. This was their decision."
Some theaters planning to screen the film at the moment include the Alamo Drafthouse. Tim League, the theater's founder, was first to tweet news about Sony's change of plans:
Breaking news: Sony has authorized screenings of THE INTERVIEW on Christmas Day. We are making shows available within the hour. #Victory
— Tim League (@timalamo) December 23, 2014
"We cannot imagine the pressures that have been affecting Sony, at all levels of the organization they have been under attack. Amidst this unwarranted chaos, they have regrouped and listened to the public, the government and the exhibition community and responded with resolve and determination," League said in a statement. He added that Sony approved screenings of "The Interview" at 10:45 a.m. Central Time on Tuesday.
"This is the best Christmas gift anyone could give us," League said. "We, both distributors and exhibitors, have collectively stood firm to our principles and for the right to freedom of expression."
The Alamo's Dallas location is now offering showtimes and tickets on its website, as is the company's Northern Virginia location. Atlanta's Plaza theater also tweeted that it would have showtimes for "The Interview" available soon. Dave Huffman, director of marketing at Cleveland Cinemas, confirmed that Southside Works in Pittsburgh and Tower City Cinemas in Cleveland will show "The Interview" on Christmas Day as well. According to CNN's Brian Stelter, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was "fully engaged" with Sony in discussing the film's release. (TheWrap reported that Sony will soon announce plans to release the film via on-demand services too, but that bit of information was not confirmed by Sony.)
Co-directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, "The Interview" focuses on an entertainment journalist (James Franco) and his producer (Rogen) and their attempts to assassinate Kim Jong Un (Randall Park). Rogen, Park and Franco were all pleased with Sony's decision to screen "The Interview." (Franco even thanked "President Obacco," a reference to when Obama misstated Franco's last name as "Flacco.")
The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn't give up! The Interview will be shown at theaters willing to play it on Xmas day!
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) December 23, 2014
— Randall Park (@parkrandall) December 23, 2014
President Obama also praised Sony's decision to authorize screenings of "The Interview."
"As the president made clear, we are a country that believes in free speech, and the right of artistic expression," White House spokesperson Eric Schultz said in a statement. "The decision made by Sony and participating theaters allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome."