After a month of threats from hackers that nearly derailed its release and almost brought Sony Pictures to its knees, the long-awaiting opening of The Interview on Christmas Day became a major event with packed crowds flocking to not only see the movie but also champion freedom of expression.
Hundreds of theaters, from The Edge 8 in Greenville, Alabama, to Michael Moore’s Bijou by the Bay in Traverse City, Michigan, made special holiday arrangements for the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
Sony Pictures had initially called off the release after major theater chains dropped the movie that was to have opened on as many as 3,000 screens.
But with President Obama among others criticizing the decision, Sony officials changed their minds and independent theaters agreed to release it in over 300 venues on Christmas Day.
‘We are taking a stand for freedom,’ said theater manager Lee Peterson of the Cinema Village East in Manhattan, where most of Thursday’s seven screenings had sold out by early afternoon.
‘We want to show the world that Americans will not be told what we can or cannot watch. Personally, I am not afraid.’
‘It was more serious, the satire, than I was expecting,’ said Simone Reynolds, who saw the film while visiting from London. ‘There’s a message for America in there too about America’s foreign policy.’
Ken Jacowitz, a 54-year-old librarian from the New York borough of Queens, called it ‘a funny film made by funny people.’ He had a message for North Korea and the hackers: ‘You have given this movie whole new lives.’
At Atlanta’s Plaza Theater, a sell-out crowd on Thursday hailed the film’s release, washing down popcorn with beer and cocktails and uniting for a boisterous sing-along of God Bless America before the opening credits.
‘This is way more fun than it would have been,’ said Jim Kelley of Atlanta, who waited outside with his daughter, Shannon. The elder Kelley added, with mocking sarcasm, ‘This is almost dangerous, like we’re living life on the edge.’
In Little Rock, members of an Arkansas family who say they otherwise would have never seen The Interview were among the first patrons at the Riverdale 10 theater. Kay Trice and her husband drove an hour from Stuttgart, Arkansas, to see the movie with their daughter and appreciated ‘the freedom to see it.’
‘It should be shown in this country and somebody in North Korea should not have the right to scare us out of seeing this,’ Trice said. Read more at dailymail.co.uk