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Arts & Culture

'The Interview' Will Play At San Diego's Digital Gym Theater Christmas Day

James Franco, left, as Dave, and Seth Rogen as Aaron, in a scene from Columbia Pictures' The Interview. The movie imagines a plot to kill Kim Jong-un, and has angered the North Korean government. It's believed to have led to a cyberattack on Sony Pictures.
Ed Araquel AP
James Franco, left, as Dave, and Seth Rogen as Aaron, in a scene from Columbia Pictures' The Interview. The movie imagines a plot to kill Kim Jong-un, and has angered the North Korean government. It's believed to have led to a cyberattack on Sony Pictures.

San Diego's Digital Gym theater announced Tuesday that it plans to show the comedy "The Interview" on Christmas Day.

The film will show at noon, 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., according to the theater. Tickets for the screening were sold out as of Wednesday morning, according to the Facebook event page. Tickets are still available for the Friday through Sunday showtimes.

"Although this film may not be typical of the films we generally screen, we made a decision to do so from a philosophical standpoint – that of artistic freedom, creative license and defense against censorship," said Ethan van Thillo, the theater's executive director, in a statement.

Sony Pictures had pulled the film because of online threats, but reversed that decision Tuesday.

The move brings back into the theaters the comedy that prompted an international incident with North Korea and outrage over its canceled release.

Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said that Seth Rogen's North Korea farce "will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day." He said Sony also is continuing its efforts to release the film on more platforms and in more theaters.

"We have never given up on releasing 'The Interview,'" Lynton said in a statement Tuesday. "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."

Moviegoers celebrated the abrupt change in fortune for a film that appeared doomed. "The Interview" began popping up in the listings of a handful of independent theaters Tuesday, including Media Arts Center San Diego's Digital Gym.

One of the loudest critics of the film's shelving — President Barack Obama — hailed Sony's reversal.

"The president applauds Sony's decision to authorize screenings of the film," said Obama spokesman Eric Schultz. "As the president made clear, we are a country that believes in free speech, and the right of artistic expression. The decision made by Sony and participating theaters allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome."

Rogen, who stars in the film he co-directed with Evan Goldberg, made his first public comments in a surreal ordeal that began with hackers leaking Sony executives' emails and culminated in a confrontation between the U.S. and North Korea. The FBI has said North Korea was "centrally involved" in the hacking attacks.

"The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn't give up!" said Rogen on Twitter.

"VICTORY!!!!!!!" said James Franco, who co-stars in the film. "The PEOPLE and THE PRESIDENT have spoken."

North Korea suffered sweeping Internet outages in an apparent attack Monday that followed President Barack Obama's vows of a response to what he called North Korea's "cyber vandalism" of Sony. The White House and State Department declined to say whether the U.S. government was responsible.

After hackers last Wednesday threatened terrorist attacks against theaters showing the film, the nation's major multiplex chains dropped "The Interview." Sony soon thereafter canceled the film's release altogether and removed mention of it from its websites.

But that decision drew widespread criticism, including from Obama, who chastised Sony for what he deemed "a mistake" that went against American principles of free speech. George Clooney also led a chorus pressuring for the movie's release and rallying against what he called corporate self-censorship.

Releasing "The Interview" could potentially cause a response from the hackers, who called themselves the Guardians of Peace. There have been none of the embarrassing data leaks on Sony emails since the movie's release was delayed. In a message last week to the studio, the hackers said Sony's data would be safe so long as the film was never distributed.

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