The Interview is making it out for Christmas. After a week of drama surrounding hacking, threats, and Presidential disses, Sony has decided to give The Interview a limited theatrical release on December 25th. "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," Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment, says in a statement. "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 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
Two theaters immediately confirmed that they would be screening the film: Alamo Drafthouse and the Plaza Atlanta. It sounds as though the theatrical release will be fairly small, with the Plaza saying that it would be among "the few theaters in the nation to open the film." The New York Times reports that Sony is aiming for 200 to 300 smaller theaters.
Sony appears to be done with getting blackmailed by hackers
The Plaza says that it will be screening The Interview from Christmas through New Year's Day. However, it remains unclear exactly how wide this release will be. Sony previously took down just about all online advertising for The Interview, but alongside these reports, its Twitter page was relaunched, suggesting that marketing is starting up again. The Alamo Drafthouse's Dallas location is now listing tickets for sale. The theater chain says that it will be playing The Interview at "multiple" of its nationwide locations, but it has not determined which specific ones just yet.
Read next: Where to see The Interview on Christmas Day
The Wrap also reports that Sony will release The Interview on-demand on Christmas, though Sony makes no note of this in its statement. However, Sony does say that it is trying to "secure more platforms" to release the film, which suggests that it is actively investigating on-demand networks that it can use. The Wrap reports that Sony was in talks with Dish to have it distribute the film, but those talks are said to have fallen apart over the weekend. There's no suggestion as to what network Sony will use or is even looking into, but there are no shortage of options available.
This is a big change of pace from Sony, which has come across more-or-less clueless about what to do with the The Interview until now. It initially cancelled the film's release last week, following threats by hackers to attack its screenings. Since then, Sony hasn't said much, aside from trying to shift the blame for its cancellation onto the theaters that wouldn't show it. A number of small theaters, like the Alamo Drafthouse, have always been quite vocal about their intention to show the film, however, and it sounds like Sony has finally listened.
"We are proud to ... have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech."
While we hope this is only the first step of the film's release," Lynton says, "we are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech." The film, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, is about an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. It also graphically depicts his death. The FBI has identified North Korea as being behind the cyberattack on Sony, presumably initiating it because of The Interview's premise.
"This is the best Christmas gift anyone could give us," Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League says in a statement, "We, both distributors and exhibitors, have collectively stood firm to our principles and for the right to freedom of expression. Two days till Christmas, and I am proud to be an American."
Playing The Interview on Christmas — and, especially, releasing it on-demand — will be a big win for Sony as far as saving face goes. The downside for the studio is that the group who hacked it said that they would release more stolen Sony data if the film was screened, and it's possible that Sony will now have to deal with the repercussions of that. That may ultimately be a good thing, though. Sony can't allow this group to continue blackmailing it indefinitely, and releasing The Interview now means that it's done with folding to hacker threats.
It's also possible that Sony is now more certain of the safety of The Interview screenings. Though Homeland Security almost immediately suggested that it was an empty threat, the government is now publicly stating that North Korea was behind the hack that set these events off. With President Obama saying that canceling the film was the wrong choice, Sony may well feel more confident in making the decision to screen it.
Sony was attacked by hackers in late November, shortly after which, the hackers began releasing stolen Sony documents online. Those releases have created quite a headache for Sony. They've included highly embarrassing emails, business plans, and sensitive information on its employees, such as their social security numbers. Last week, the hackers threatened to attack movie theaters playing The Interview, leading to Sony's temporary cancellation of the film. On Friday, the FBI formally identified North Korea as the culprit, though the country has denied involvement.
Now the biggest remaining question is: is The Interview any good? The internet says "yes," but early reviews say "no." In reality, it probably doesn't matter. As Seth Rogen puts it: "The people have spoken!"
James Franco had this to say: