Sony Pictures puts 'The Interview' back in theaters

Tue Dec 23, 2014 3:33pm EST
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By Eric Kelsey and Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sony Pictures said on Tuesday it will release "The Interview" to a limited number of theaters on Dec. 25, less than a week after it canceled the comedy's release following a devastating cyberattack blamed on North Korea.

Sony's about-face came after it absorbed withering criticism, even from President Barack Obama for its decision last week to pull the film, which was seen not only as self-censorship in Hollywood but also caving into hackers working for North Korea.

The studio said it had pulled the Seth Rogen-James Franco film about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korea leader Kim Jong Un after major theater chains backed out owing to security concerns.

"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," Sony Pictures Chief Executive Michael Lynton said in a statement.

"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."

Approval from the White House came swiftly.

"As the president made clear, we are a country that believes in free speech, and the right of artistic expression," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. "The decision made by Sony and participating theaters allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome."

Franco and Rogen, who co-directed and starred in the film, broke their silence after Sony made the announcement.   Continued...

Cast members James Franco (L) and Seth Rogen pose during premiere of the film "The Interview" in Los Angeles, California December 11, 2014.  REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian