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Christmas Gift Guide

'GOP' hacks Sony Pictures

Embarrassing comments leaked

Snapchat's CEO rails at hackers

Seth Rogen and James Franco

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

The 'Interview' heard round the world

Hollywood's reaction

'Sony made a mistake'

Sony Pictures CEO: 'We made no mistake'

FBI blames North Korea

Internet goes dark in North Korea

'The Interview' is back on

Victory for free speech

Online streaming option

Taking a risk

Near the end of November, a hacker group identifying itself as GOP (or Guardians of Peace) accessed movie studio Sony Pictures' internal data and then threatened to make it public. The hack resulted in the leak of a mountain of data, including embarrassing emails and unreleased movies. Hackers initially succeeded at using threats to force studio bosses to pull "The Interview," a movie they found offensive, before the studio did an about-face and announced the movie's release. Here is a collection of the hack's highlights -- or lowlights.

Caption by / Photo by Sony Pictures

On December 11, Sony Pictures Co-Chairman Amy Pascal apologized for comments made in a series of leaked email exchanges between herself and producer Scott Rudin.

In one email exchange, Pascal quipped about President Obama, "Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?" To which Rudin replied "12 YEARS," (in reference to the movie "12 Years a Slave"). Pascal then responded "Or the butler. Or think like a man?" referring to other films featuring black actors.

Caption by / Photo by Sony Pictures

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said he was "angry" and "devastated" that information about his startup's business plan was revealed as a result of Sony Pictures' crippling security breach.

"I felt like I was going to cry all morning, so I went on a walk and thought through a couple things," he wrote in a memo sent to Snapchat employees.

Caption by / Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Seth Rogen and James Franco star in Sony Pictures' $44 million comedy "The Interview," which focuses on a fictitious trip to North Korea to assassinate leader Kim Jong-un.

Caption by / Photo by Sony Pictures; screenshot by CNET

North Korea, upset by "The Interview" and the (movie) plot to assassinate Kim, was behind the massive hack of the studio, according to the FBI.

Caption by / Photo by Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

On December 17, Sony canceled the release of "The Interview," following threats of September 11-style attacks on moviegoers. After President Obama said the studio had made a mistake by backing down, Sony later announced that the movie would screen after all.

Caption by / Photo by Sony Pictures

Hollywood's reaction to the pulling of the film was mixed, with many A-list celebrities criticizing Sony's action. Actor George Clooney unloaded on the North Korean dictator for his nation’s reaction to "The Interview," saying “We cannot be told we can’t see something, by Kim Jong-un, of all f---ing people,” Clooney said in an interview with Deadline Hollywood.

Here, Clooney and his wife, Amal Alamuddin, leave the Aman Hotel in Venice on September 28.

Caption by / Photo by Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

The opinion from the White House was much the same. “We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship in the United States,” President Obama said on December 19, during his last news conference of the year.

Caption by / Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

In President Obama's opinion, Sony erred by pulling "The Interview" from theaters after hackers made threats of violence. But Sony Pictures Co-Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton said, "we made no mistake." He said theaters had opted not to show the film.

Here, Sony corporation CEO Kazuo Hirai (left) shakes hands with Lynton at Sony's Tokyo headquarters in November.

Caption by / Photo by Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images

On December 19, the FBI released the findings of its investigation into one of the most destructive cyberattacks ever on a company on US soil, saying North Korea was to blame.

Two days later, North Korea responded to the FBI's assertion. The country's state news agency said, "Without resorting to such tortures as were used by the CIA, we have means to prove that this incident has nothing to do with us."

Caption by / Photo by FBI.gov

On December 22, after President Obama vowed to take action in response to the Sony Pictures hack, North Korea experienced an unusual Internet outage. Speaking with reporters the same day, a spokeswoman for the US State Department wouldn't say what steps the US would take against North Korea. "We are considering a range of options in response," Bloomberg quoted her as saying. "Some will be seen. Some may not be seen." Internet connectivity was eventually restored, after 10 hours, Bloomberg reported.

Caption by / Photo by Dyn Research

Call it a Christmas miracle for the First Amendment, or perhaps Sony again bowing to pressure, this time from Washington instead of terrorists. But on December 23, news broke that "The Interview" would be released to some theaters on Christmas Day.

Caption by / Photo by Twitter screenshot by CNET

The same day, "Interview" co-star and co-director Seth Rogen sent this message to his Twitter followers, announcing that "The Interview" would be shown in theaters willing to screen it.

Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by CNET

Sony also turned to the Internet to release the movie, starting at 10 a.m. PT December 24.

Google Play, Google's YouTube Movies, Microsoft's Xbox Video and a dedicated Sony-built website called Seetheinterview.com were the first options out the door.

The movie can be rented for $6 or purchased for $15.

Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by CNET

Among the more than 200 independent theaters that chose to show "The Interview" once Sony gave the go-ahead is this Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in  southwest Austin.

The first showing was set for 11:50 p.m. local time on Christmas Day.

Alamo Drafthouse, a small chain of movie theaters based in Texas, was among the companies calling on Sony to let them show the film despite the threats of physical violence from the hackers who infiltrated Sony's servers.

Caption by / Photo by Natalie Weinstein/CNET
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