Sony to release The Interview after all, but only in a few US theatres
It's showing in theatres. It's not. No wait, it is.
Sony Pictures, please make up your mind. Are you releasing The Interview or not?
The latest from the company is that the madcap comedy will be screened in a few theatres in the US on Christmas Day.
Sony chief executive Michael Lynton said: "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."
He added that the movie would be released on more “platforms” in the future.
The release will likely be limited to smaller movie chains and just 200 to 300 cinemas – a fraction of the estimated 2,500 theatres originally expected to screen the movie.
Freedom of speech
Sony's dramatic U-turn comes six days after it cancelled the film's opening, in a move decried as a defeat for freedom of speech.
The release was initially cancelled after a series of major US theatre chains said they would not show the film.
There have also been chilling threats by hacker group “Guardians of Peace” which suggested theatres screening the movie would be targeted with attacks.
The Interview is a screwball romp about a fictional plot by two US journalists embarking on a mission to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
North Korea has been accused by the United States government of launching a crippling cyber attack on Sony which saw the release of a trove of embarrassing e-mails, scripts and other internal communications, including information about salaries and employee health records.
Pyongyang has repeatedly denied involvement in the hack but has applauded the actions of a shadowy online group which claimed responsibility for the cyber attack, the self-styled “Guardians of Peace".
US President Barack Obama applauded Sony’s decision to release the film.
"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 told reporters.
“The decision made by Sony and participating theatres allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome.”
Comedian Seth Rogen, the movie’s co-director, lead actor and screenwriter, hailed Sony’s startling volte-face.
Co-star James Franco sounded an equally jubilant note, thanking Obama for his support for the film.