Multiple theaters are now announcing that Sony Pictures has authorized screenings of The Interview on Christmas Day. There are also reports that the company will also announce corresponding video on demand release. They're not such cowards after all!
That's Tim League of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a Texas-based movie theater chain, who supported a petition for Sony Pictures to allow independent theaters to show the movie. The Drafthouse Cinema in Dallas will be one of the select theaters, and tickets are now for sale. This tweet came from Plaza Atlanta, the longest-operating cinema in Georgia, where the movie will also be shown:
Within minutes of these tweets, news emerged that Sony Pictures was planning to announce a theatrical release and VOD strategy. Promotional pages for The Interview, namely the movie's Twitter page, also started come back online.
Details remain vague about exactly how many theaters will be screening The Interview. An unnamed sourced told The New York Times "it appeared unlikely that big chains like Regal or AMC would come on board but that Sony was likely to patch together distribution for the film in 200 to 300 smaller theaters." That's better than none.
The Interview, of course, is the Seth Rogen comedy about assassinating Kim Jong-Un that's supposedly to blame for the massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures. (North Korea is reportedly to blame.) Less than a week ago, the top five theater chains in the United States decided to drop The Interview, after receiving threats from hackers that screening the film would result in 9/11-scale violence. Sony Pictures announced later that day that it had no plans to release the film in any way.
Then, the president got involved. Last Friday, Obama said that Sony Pictures "made a mistake" by deciding to pull The Interview. In the same breath, the president reiterated the importance of free speech. He said of Sony Pictures, "I wish they had spoken to me first." Well apparently, Sony Pictures has heard him now.
Update 1:15 p.m.: Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton issued the following statement about the limited release:
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.
It's worth remembering that Lynton also said that Sony Pictures had not given up on the film last Friday after his company got scolded by the president. Lynton added:
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 stop 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.
It's unclear if Lynton is talking about the hackers who attempted to suppress free speech or his own company which pulled The Interview from theaters in the first place.
Update 3:30 p.m.: Los Angeles Times Hollywood editor Joe Bel Bruno reports:
Updated 6:00 p.m.: The White House sounds pretty proud of Sony Pictures for doing the right thing. White House spokesman Eric Schultz said:
The President applauds Sony's decision to authorize screenings of the film. As the President made clear, we are a country that believes in free speech, and the right of artistic expression. The decision made by Sony and participating theaters allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome.
An unnamed source told ABC News that any independent theaters interested in screening the film are contacting Sony Pictures representatives to schedule show times. So, believe it or not, The Interview may be coming soon to a theater near you.