Sony Pictures moves to release 'The Interview' in about-face
By Eric Kelsey and David Brunnstrom
LOS ANGELES/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sony Pictures will allow "The Interview" to play in some U.S. theaters on Christmas Day, reversing its decision to pull the film, after coming under criticism from President Barack Obama and others for caving into pressure from North Korea.
The White House praised Sony's about-face, which the studio said would result in "a limited theatrical release" of the film, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco and is about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.
"The decision made by Sony and participating theaters allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome," presidential spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement.
Obama on Friday had called Sony's decision to pull the $44 million movie a mistake, suggesting it could set a precedent in which "some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States."
Congressional Republicans and Democrats, as well as Hollywood luminaries such as George Clooney, had also assailed the canceled release, with some accusing the studio of self-censorship. Some in Congress called for screenings on Capitol Hill or at the White House.
Franco and Rogen, who also co-directed the film, broke their silence after Sony made the announcement.
"The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed!" Rogen said, while Franco added, "VICTORY!!!!!!! The PEOPLE and THE PRESIDENT have spoken!!!"
Sony Pictures Entertainment Chief Executive Michael Lynton said the studio was looking for more options to screen the film, which major U.S. theater chains pulled because of threats from hackers who warned of a September 11, 2001 style of attack. Continued...