The Interview has opened in some US theaters and online, after a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and threats to moviegoers over its release.
Sony Pictures had originally pulled The Interview, a movie about a fictional plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but it reconsidered after critics – including President Barack Obama.
The studio said freedom of expression was under threat.
Some movie theaters organized midnight showings for Americans determined to see The Interview on the big screen.
Several hundred independent theaters across the US have come forward offering to show the title after larger cinemas decided not to screen it following threats.
Lee Peterson, manager of Cinema Village in New York, told Reuters news agency it was a matter of principle to show the film.
“Obviously we would like to make money from the movie, as we would with any movie, but it’s important to take a stand about freedom, freedom of speech, freedom to see movies.”
The film is also being offered through a dedicated website and via Google services YouTube and Play, and Microsoft’s Xbox Video platform, but only in the US.
Sony Pictures initially pulled the film after suffering an unprecedented hacking attack at the hands of a group calling itself the Guardians of Peace.
Last week, the FBI said its analysis pointed the finger at North Korea. However, many cybersecurity experts have come forward to dispute this assertion.
North Korea denied being behind the attack but described it as a “righteous deed”.
The hackers threatened to carry out a terrorist attack on theaters showed the film on its scheduled release date of Christmas Day. After many cinemas pulled out, Sony cancelled the release.
That move was described by President Barack Obama as a mistake.
Sony Chairman Michael Lynton said digital distribution had now been chosen to reverse some of that damage.
“It was essential for our studio to release this movie, especially given the assault upon our business and our employees by those who wanted to stop free speech.
“We chose the path of digital distribution first so as to reach as many people as possible on opening day, and we continue to seek other partners and platforms to further expand the release.”
The Interview features James Franco and Seth Rogen as two journalists granted an audience with Kim Jong-un. The CIA then enlists the pair to assassinate the North Korean leader.
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