UPDATE at 2:40 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23: The full statement from Sony's CEO is below.
Following intense pressure and criticism, Sony Pictures Entertainment has apparently reversed course and will release The Interview Christmas Day in theaters and via video and demand.
Tim League, founder of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, tweeted today that “Sony has authorized screenings of THE INTERVIEW on Christmas Day. We are making shows available within the hour.”
The Wrap got to the bottom of the details, saying the Culver City-based studio decided to release the controversial film simultaneously via video on demand and in about 200 theaters nationwide. Those would include the Plaza Theater in Atlanta, MX Theaters in St. Louis and League's Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, the site said.
The Interview's director, Seth Rogen, tweeted, “The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn't give up!”
The Wrap quotes Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment:
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. 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.
The studio was criticized far and wide by top Hollywood stars and even by President Obama (he called the cancellation a “mistake”) for pulling the film following threats against theater-goers should be it be screened on its scheduled Christmas opening day.
The threats followed an unprecedented hack of Sony computers that revealed pay, emails, social security numbers and scripts. U.S. authorities blamed North Korea for the attack, and the rogue nation has made no secret of its dislike for The Interview's plot, which has a hapless TV talk crew recruited to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Kim Jong-un.
The prevailing wisdom as that the North Korean government is incensed over the idea of portraying the assassination of its supreme leader. However, there are those who doubt that North Korea was behind the sophisticated hack and subsequent threat to movie-goers.
— Laemmle Theatres (@laemmle) December 23 2014
Sony pulled the Christmas Day release of the film after several top exhibitors said they couldn't show it in the face of such threats of violence to theater-goers. The legal liability could have been crushing if anyone got hurt. Then the studio reportedly said the movie wouldn't be distributed via video on demand either.
Following a barrage of criticism that characterized Sony's move as cowardly and un-American, Lynton granted interviews in which he blamed the media for misinterpreting the studio's decision: He said it was the theater chains that canceled the film and that Sony was still trying to get it out there.
UPDATE at 2:40 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23: Sony, which says “The Interview will have a limited theatrical release in the United States on Christmas Day,” sent us the full statement by CEO Lynton:
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. 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.