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'The Interview' To Play In More Than 200 Theaters On Christmas Day

A poster for <em>The Interview</em>. Some theaters now say they will show the comedy, which Sony Pictures had pulled following threats.
Jim Ruymen
UPI /Landov
A poster for The Interview. Some theaters now say they will show the comedy, which Sony Pictures had pulled following threats.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

More than 200 theaters will now show The Interview on Christmas Day, a spokesperson for Sony Pictures tells NPR.

Sony had pulled the controversial comedy that centers on a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after ominous threats were made, allegedly by a group that hacked the studio's emails. The nation's largest theater chains had also said they won't show the movie starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.

But today, Tim League, who founded the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, tweeted this message:

Variety had earlier reported that Plaza Atlanta will also screen the film.

In a statement, Michael Lynton, Sony's chairman and CEO, said: "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."

He said the studio will continue its efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters to show the film. Variety reported that Sony could offer the film via video on demand.

Rogen, who also co-directed the movie, tweeted:

Co-director Evan Goldberg and co-star Franco had similar reactions.

Franco's naming of "President Obacco" is an apparent reference to President Obama, who in his own remarks about the movie referred to the actor as James Flacco. Obama had criticized Sony's original decision, but today White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the president applauded the decision to screen the film.

"As the president made clear, we are a country that believes in free speech, and the right of artistic expression," 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."

As we've previously reported, Sony's original decision was widely criticized. Author George R.R. Martin even offered to screen the film at his own theater in Santa Fe, N.M.

Independent theater owner Greg Laemmle told NPR that his and other theater owners' decision to show The Interview is about more than just one film.

"Do we as art house theaters have a particular axe to grind with North Korea? No," said Laemmle, who runs the Southern California-based chain Laemmle Theaters. "Do we have a particular reason to support raunchy, R-rated comedies? No. But we do see some real problems in the ideas that someone lurking in the shadows can shut down the release of material they don't like."

Laemmle says he'll beef up security for screenings of The Interview in his theaters, but that he's not too worried about any foul play. He's set to start showing the movie starting New Year's Eve in his North Hollywood location.

The FBI says North Korea was behind the hacks, but Pyongyang — while describing the hack as "righteous" — has denied any role. Some experts also doubt whether the communist country has the capability to carry out such an attack.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.

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