“Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn’t give up!” Seth Rogen, who co-directed, co-wrote and co-stars in “The Interview,” wrote on Twitter.
A comedy about the assassination of North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong-un, “The Interview” was withdrawn by Sony last week after theater chains refused to play it in the face of a terror threat. Though Sony was privately searching for new outlets, the aborted release led to a chorus of protest, as irate Hollywood stars, free-speech advocates and even President Obama complained that Sony had capitulated to extortionist demands to cancel the release.
“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,” said Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment. “At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.
“I want to thank our talent on ‘The Interview’ and our employees, who have worked tirelessly through the many challenges we have all faced over the last month. 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.”
“The president applauds Sony’s decision to authorize screenings of the film,” the White House said in a statement. “As the President made clear, we are a country that believes in free speech, and the right of artistic expression. The decision made by Sony and participating theaters allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome.”
The film’s stars also celebrated the release of the film. In an Instagram post celebrating the news, Franco — who Obama had mistakenly called “James Flacco” while speaking about the movie — joked that “President Obacco” saved the film.
In New York City, though, a comedy venue called the Treehouse Theater already had planned a live reading of the film’s script, which is about a plot to assassinate North Korea’s dictator. The theater announced on its website:
In the wake of recent events surrounding the controversial film ‘The Interview,’ the feeling that a threat to free speech has been imposed is inescapable and terrifying. In response to this, three comedians have acquired a draft of the script for the banned film and are producing a live-read at the Treehouse Theater on Saturday, Dec. 27 at 7 p.m.
The live reading is sponsored by the Pioneers Bar. The theater called its copy of the script “close to the final version” and promised that “the performers are top notch.”
“As the event is as much a political statement as a theatrical event, the show will be free,” the announcement said.
President Barack Obama’s recent criticism of Sony Pictures decision to pull its release of “The Interview” included the lament, “I wish they had spoken to me first.”
What many Americans did not know, however, was that the president was grumbling about a personal friend.
Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton is one of the president’s most reliable campaign donors, but the relationship is deeper than that: He and his wife, Jamie Alter Lynton, have visited the White House a dozen times and even vacationed with the Obamas. And Sony Pictures is well-connected in Washington in its own right, spending half a million dollars a year on lobbying in addition to its influence through the heavy-hitting Motion Picture Association of America. Few companies, it turns out, would have been in a better position to make a phone call to the president.
Although the country continues to deny any involvement in the massive Sony hack, the report said North Korea is “fully ready to stand in confrontation with the U.S. in all war spaces, including cyber warfare space to blow up those citadels.”
It added, “Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism.”
Sony Pictures Entertainment produced The Interview, a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, but later canceled its theatrical release following threats from anonymous hackers. However, North Korea claims the U.S. government was involved in making the film, which is about a Kim Jong-un assassination plot.
“The DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] has clear evidence that the U.S. administration was deeply involved in the making of such dishonest reactionary movie,” the KCNA report said.