Sony to release 'The Interview' on Dec. 25 after all

Call it a Christmas miracle for the First Amendment, or perhaps Sony again bowing to pressure, this time from Washington instead of terrorists. Either way, the movie will be released to some theaters.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read

"The Interview" is back on after being called off amid terrorist threats. Sony Pictures

"The Interview" is back on.

That's the message from Sony and some of its partners, who have agreed to begin showing the satirical movie about an assassination plot against North Korea's dictator on December 25. Last week, the company said it had canceled the film's release following a series of threats.

"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," Michael Lynton, head of Sony Entertainment, said in a statement Tuesday. "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."

The movie will debut Thursday at more than 200 theaters, Sony said. Some theaters have already begun publishing viewing times for the film, including including the Alamo Drafthouse. Other theaters have also claimed plans to offer showings.

The about-face is a surprising twist in what has become one of the largest corporate dramas of the year.

It started with the movie, "The Interview," starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. The comedy centers on a fictional US government plot to kill Kim Jong-Un, North Korea's dictatorial leader.

The reclusive government complained about the film for months. Then in late in November, Sony Pictures became the victim of a cyberattack from hackers who stole thousands of documents from the company's computer systems and released them on the Internet. The company was quickly criticized for revelations stemming from the documents, and for the apparent lack of security of its computer systems.

Meanwhile, people claiming to be the hackers threatened 9/11-style attacks on any movie theater showing "The Interview," leading several chains to cancel showings and Sony to eventually bow to the would-be terrorist's demands.

Since then, Sony's actions have become fodder for debates over freedom of speech and those who might limit it. US President Barack Obama weighed in, saying Sony made a mistake when it acquiesced to the threats. "If somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don't like, or a news report that they don't like -- or even worse," Obama said during a press conference last week. "We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States."

Some high-profile actors also spoke out with similar sentiments.

Now that Sony has reversed its decision again, Rogen at least appears pleased.

Franco's celebratory social media post was a little more crass.