WRAPUP 4-Sony's 'Interview' draws U.S. moviegoers who trumpet free speech
(Adds Sony's no comment on number of downloads, Microsoft comment, comments from Los Angeles moviegoers.)
By Luc Cohen and Alicia Avila
NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES Dec 25 (Reuters) - "The Interview," the Sony Pictures film about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, opened in more than 300 movie theaters across the United States on Christmas Day, drawing many sell-out audiences and statements by patrons that they were championing freedom of expression.
Co-directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, who also co-stars in the low-brow comedy with James Franco, surprised moviegoers by appearing at the sold-out 12:30 a.m. PT (0830 GMT) screening of the movie at a theater in Los Angeles, where they briefly thanked fans for their support.
Sony Pictures this week backtracked from its original decision to cancel the release of the $44 million film after major U.S. theater chains pulled out because of threats by the group claiming responsibility for a destructive cyberattack on Sony last month.
The United States blamed the attacks on North Korea.
Movie theater managers and patrons alike said they believed there was nothing to fear, and the initial screenings on Thursday were uneventful.
The audience at the first screening of the film in New York City, at the Cinema Village in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, remained silent during a scene showing the death of Kim Jong Un in the downing of his helicopter.
Matt Rosenzweig, 60, of Manhattan, said the moments that drew the most applause had to do with the idea of acting against censorship rather than animosity toward North Korea. Continued...