This holiday season, would-be freedom fighters in limited markets will have the opportunity to stick it to some vague concept of “The Man.” In a move that isn’t so much as a Christmas miracle as an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the publicity generated by comedy that received lukewarm reviews in advance screenings—yet possibly inspired an historically devastating corporate cyberattack—Sony Pictures Entertainment announced it will show the assassination comedy in select movie theaters starting on Dec. 25.
This is an about-face from last week, when Sony declared it wouldn’t release The Interview after bomb threats caused major theater chains to cancel showings. Despite the movie’s plot—characters played by James Franco and Seth Rogen are tasked by the CIA with assassinating head of state Kim Jong-un—North Korea denies responsibility for both the threats and the hack that leaked a mountain of embarrassing Sony emails and documents on the Internet.
That’s poppycock according to the U.S. government, which claims evidence that North Korea is behind the attack. President Barack Obama promised retaliation shortly after Sony announced the movie’s cancellation, and coincidentally or not, North Korea suffered a mass Internet outage of nonspecific origins on Monday.
On Tuesday, with news that Sony would contract with some theaters to show the Interview, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said in a press statement that the studio always intended to show the movie in some capacity.
“We are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech,” Lynton said, though it’s not clear whether or not the irony is intended. Continuing its threats to hold news agencies “responsible” for publishing Sony documents freely available on the Internet following the breach, the multinational corporation is reportedly threatening to sue Twitter if it doesn’t suspend users sharing hacked content on its platform.
The New York Times reports that Sony will likely release The Interview in 200 to 300 smaller theaters. So far, the 30-theater Alamo Drafthouse chain (pretty much the only place to see a movie, in this reporter’s opinion) and the Plaza in Atlanta are confirmed.
Perhaps Sony can use the box office proceeds to bolster its free speech legal fund, and maybe put what’s left over toward shoring up its firewalls.
Lead image from The Interview by Sony Pictures Entertainment