The Cable

Take That, Pyongyang: ‘The Interview’ to Get Limited Christmas Day Release

That was fast. Four days after President Barack Obama publicly called out Sony Pictures for betraying American values by pulling The Interview, a movie that depicts the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the studio has reversed course, sort of. Sony, which pulled the film after a cyberattack the FBI believes originated ...

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That was fast.

Four days after President Barack Obama publicly called out Sony Pictures for betraying American values by pulling The Interview, a movie that depicts the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the studio has reversed course, sort of. Sony, which pulled the film after a cyberattack the FBI believes originated in North Korea, announced Tuesday that the movie would get a limited release on Christmas Day.

“We have never given up,” Michael Lynton, chief executive of Sony Entertainment, said in a statement. “We are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.”

According to the New York Times, big chains like AMC and Regal, still spooked by threats from the Guardians of Peace, the hackers responsible for the attack, aren’t likely to screen the film. Instead, the film would run in smaller, independent theaters. And those who like a beer or two with their movies are in luck: The Alamo Drafthouse chain has already said it would screen the movie.

Stars Seth Rogen and James Franco took to Twitter to cast Sony’s decision as a historic victory for the forces of good over the forces of evil.

“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!” Rogen tweeted.

“CELEBRATING!!!!! ‘The Interview’ starring Seth Rogen and James Flacco saved by President Obacco!” Franco added, intentionally misspelling the president’s last name while making light of Obama wrongly referring to the actor as James Flacco last Friday (Joe Flacco is the quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens).

The film’s release will allow Sony to recoup some of the $44 million it spent to make the film, but it’s still likely to be a steep loss for the studio. It originally planned to screen The Interview on 2,000 to 3,000 screens. Now, it will be shown on a few hundred.

It also marks a second victory against North Korea. Yesterday, the Internet there mysteriously went dark a day after Obama promised a “proportional response” to the Sony hack. U.S. officials denied any American involvement in the blackout.

Ultimately, all of the free publicity the movie received because of the hack and subsequent threats against theaters might be a good thing: According to early reviews, The Interview isn’t very good.

Photo Credit: Ida Mae Astute/Getty Images

David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis

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