Sony has announced a limited theatrical release for Seth Rogen and James Franco’s controversial comedy, The Interview, on Christmas Day, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Sources also said the film — which stars Rogen and Franco as journalists hired by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un — will simultaneously be offered on video on demand.
It is unclear what VOD platform The Interview will be made available on, or how many theaters will screen the film. As of now, the independent cinema chain the Alamo Drafthouse has confirmed they will screen the movie at a number of their locations (theaters and showtimes are still being determined), as will the Plaza Theater in Atlanta.
“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,” Sony chairman and CEO Michael Lynton said 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… 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.”
Rogen echoed Lynton in an exuberant Tweet: “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!”
Franco was no less ecstatic, tweeting, “VICTORY!!!!!!! The PEOPLE and THE PRESIDENT have spoken!!!”
Sony initially canceled The Interview after several major movie theater chains dropped the film from their Christmas lineup following threats to attack cinemas showing the movie were made by a group called Guardians for Peace. The group also claimed responsibility for the massive cyber attack on Sony, which the FBI linked to North Korea as well (the state has denied any involvement).
The decision to kill The Interview, however, drew plenty of criticism, both in and outside of Hollywood. President Barack Obama addressed the matter, saying, “I think [Sony] made a mistake. We cannot have a society where some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States.”
Earlier today, Representative Brad Sherman, a California Democrat and Chairman of the Entertainment Industries Caucus, called on Sony and Lynton to release the picture, and even suggested screening the film at the U.S. Capitol. A coalition of approximately 250 independent cinemas also sent an open letter to Lynton, and started a petition, urging the studio to release the film in the name of free speech.