President Barack Obama has applauded Sony Pictures’ decision to authorise the screening of “The Interview” — a film satirising North Korean leader Kim Jong-un — in independent theatres, the White House said.
“As the President made clear, we are a country that believes in free speech, and the right of artistic expression,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
“The decision made by Sony Pictures and participating theatres allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome,” the spokesman said.
The screening of the film in the US, scheduled for Dec 25, was cancelled after Sony was targetted with a hacking attack, which the US administration attributes to North Korea, and the cyber-pirates subsequently threatened to cause panic at movie theatres showing the film.
At least two independent US theatres announced Tuesday that they will show “The Interview”.
Atlanta’s Plaza Theatre and The Alamo Draft house in Dallas are going to show the film on Christmas Day, the owners of those theatres announced.
Sony confirmed that it will authorise those theatres to show the film, a comedy with Seth Rogen and James Franco about a fictitious US plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, something that the Pyongyang government had called an “act of war”.
“We have never given up on releasing ‘The Interview,’,” said Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. “While we hope this is only the first step of the film’s release, we are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech.”
Earlier, Tim League, the owner of The Alamo Drafthouse, wrote on Twitter that Sony had authorised the showing of “The Interview” on Christmas Day, and said that tickets would go on sale immediately.
James Wallace, the creative manager for Dallas theatre, also said the film will be shown there and that the tickets were being made available to the public.
In the Nov 24 cyber-attack, the hackers stole, among other data, Social Security numbers and medical records of over 3,000 of the Sony’s employees.
In addition, the cyber-pirates — calling themselves the “Guardians of Peace” — stole five new feature length films from Sony, one of Hollywood’s largest film studios, and leaked them on the internet prior to their scheduled releases.
The US government has also begun reevaluating whether or not to place North Korea back on the State Department’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism after the cyber-attack. Former president George W. Bush had removed Pyongyang from the list in 2008.
Obama said last Sunday that the attack on Sony Pictures was not an “act of war” but one of “cyber-vandalism” to which the US would give a “proportionate” response.
North Korea Monday found that it was cut off completely from the internet for yet undetermined reasons, several days after the US had blamed that country for the cyber-attack.