After a week of controversy surrounding Sony’s decision to pull their hot-button film The Interview from theaters, the company has reversed their decision. In what is being widely hailed as a victory for free speech, the James Franco, Seth Rogen starrer will now show in limited release in several hundred independent theaters throughout the US. The announcement comes just days after the studio had revealed their plan to release the film on their own online streaming service, Crackle.
The film has been the center of a firestorm of controversy stemming from a November breach of Sony’s computer system by a hacking group calling itself Guardians of Peace, believed by the FBI to have ties to North Korea. In addition to divulging sensitive data about Sony execs and employees, and posting plot information regarding upcoming films, the group threatened violence on theaters that showed the film, prompting Sony to scrap the Christmas day premiere when the nation’s five largest theater chains backed out of showing the film.
The cancellation sent ripples throughout Hollywood, reaching as far as the Oval Office, with President Obama chiming in to support creative freedom and free speech. Several independent exhibitors offered a plan to show Paramount’s similarly-themed 2004 puppet comedy Team America: World Police as a replacement but the studio declined to make that film available.
The Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse chain and The Plaza Atlanta theater were among the first theaters to announce their plans to play the film on Deccember 25.
Upon the announcement, the film’s star and co-director Rogen took to Twitter:
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