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Arts & Culture

North Park's Digital Gym Gets Ready To Show 'The Interview'

A view of the outside of Digital Gym Cinema on El Cajon Boulevard in North Park, Dec. 24, 2014.
Matthew Bowler
A view of the outside of Digital Gym Cinema on El Cajon Boulevard in North Park, Dec. 24, 2014.

It’s not every day a 46-seat nonprofit movie theater is the only cinema premiering a big-studio, R-rated buddy comedy.

But Digital Gym Cinema in North Park is the only theater in San Diego that will show the now-infamous movie, “The Interview,” a Seth Rogen comedy about North Korea.

Sony Pictures canceled the film’s release after hackers made online threats that it would attack theaters that showed the movie. Sony on Tuesday reversed the decision to pull the film following a public outcry. It also has decided to show the movie on YouTube and other streaming services starting Wednesday night.

The Digital Gym usually shows art house and foreign films, but to make a statement against censorship the theater is making an exception for “The Interview,” said Ethan Van Thillo, the cinema’s executive director.

A look inside the 46-seat theater at North Park's Digital Gym Cinema, Dec. 24, 2014.
Matthew Bowler
A look inside the 46-seat theater at North Park's Digital Gym Cinema, Dec. 24, 2014.

“I think people just want to see it as a community,” Van Thillo said Wednesday. “They want to say we support free speech. It's becoming an event movie, and I think a cult classic for years to come.”

The FBI did stop by the theater on Wednesday morning to talk over security issues.

“Definitely cyber security is an issue,” Van Thillo said. “We’ve been approached by the FBI to talk about … their concerns about our website and our concerns of our internal IT.”

The FBI issued a statement Wednesday, acknowledging it has been in contact with Sony Pictures and theaters that plan to show “The Interview,” which imagines a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

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.

“The FBI, out of an abundance of caution, routinely shares information about a variety of threats, including cyber threats, with law enforcement entities, to include task forces, and private sector partners to provide awareness,” the statement said. “This engagement is critical in our nation’s efforts to safeguard against attacks from our adversaries.”

But those worries are not affecting some moviegoers. All four screenings on Christmas Day, when “The Interview” opens, are sold out at the Digital Gym.

Juan Pena-Lopez, who wasn’t planning to see the movie until it got pulled, got two of the last tickets for a 10 p.m. showing.

“I work all day Christmas Day and I gotta give myself a little break,” said Pena-Lopez, who sells flowers at a stand. “I wasn’t going to watch the movie, but the more commotion it did, I want to see it.”

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