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Indies Save the Day: Sony Approves Christmas Screenings, VOD Release of ‘The Interview’

Indies Save the Day: Sony Approves Christmas Screenings, VOD Release of 'The Interview'

Per Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League, Sony has approved Christmas Day screenings of “The Interview,” the Seth Rogen/James Franco buddy comedy and satire of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un that spurred the “hack attack” dominating news from entertainment scribes and foreign affairs analysts alike in recent weeks.

READ MORE: “Sony Fallout from Hack Attack: Three Takeaways”

At midday Tuesday, League tweeted, “Breaking news: Sony has authorized screenings of THE INTERVIEW on
Christmas Day. We are making shows available within the hour. #Victory.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the city’s Plaza Theater will also be among the cinemas to screen the controversial film Thursday, only days after Sony — weakened by reams of embarrassing emails stolen during the hack and subsequently made public — pulled the film over threats from “Guardians of Peace,” the group claiming responsibility for the attack. In addition to the limited theatrical release, The Wrap reports that Sony will make the film available on VOD on Christmas Day. 

READ MORE: “Seven Reasons Why Theaters Felt Compelled to Pull the Interview” 

The news comes as the consequences of the Sony hack continue to reverberate in Hollywood and Washington. As Anne Thompson noted in her most recent analysis, Sony chairman Amy Pascal is “unlikely to survive” the fallout, while Sony CEO Michael Lynton found himself in the unenviable position of making the Sunday morning show rounds to defend the company from criticism by President Barack Obama, who called the move to pull “The Interview” a mistake.

Sony’s about-face suggests a new stage in the company’s response to the attack, coming less than 24 hours after attorney David Boies sent a letter to Twitter requesting that the social media giant suspend a user who posted more than 50 internal company documents released during the cyberattack. As CNN’s Brian Stelter reported earlier today, the decision to pull “The Interview” proved deeply unpopular with exhibitors, writers, the Republican National Committee, and the general public — six out of 10 Americans called cancelling the film’s theatrical release an overreaction, according to a CNN/ORC poll.

As the VOD and limited theatrical release of “The Interview” promises to capitalize on the unprecedented attention paid to the $44-million comedy, the foreign policy implications of the attack remain in flux. Per CNN, the FBI claimed on saturday that North Korea is behind what President Obama called an act of “cybervandalism,” though not all experts are convinced of this assessment, according to a report in the Christian Science Monitor. The North Korean regime responded by denying involvement and labeling the United States a “cesspool of terrorism”; yesterday, North Korea endured a massive, nine-hour Internet outage.

The indies may have saved the day for “The Interview,” but it’s clear that the implications of the Sony hack — for the studios, cyber security, free speech, and U.S. foreign policy — are still playing out.    

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