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Sony Will Show 'The Interview' In Some Theaters


It may or may not be at a theater near you, but Sony Pictures Entertainment will now release its comedy "The Interview" on Christmas Day. NPR's Sam Sanders reports it will be a limited release that comes after a push by independent theaters.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Sony got a lot of flak over pulling the film from as far up as the White House.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I'm sympathetic that Sony, as a private company, was worried about liabilities and this and that and the other. I wish they had spoken to me first.

SANDERS: Last week, Sony canceled the film's release. The company said it had little choice because major theater chains had backed out of screening the movie after threats surfaced of a 9/11-style attack on theaters that played the film. But today, with the help of independent theaters, Sony says "The Interview" will be seen on Christmas.

RUSS COLLINS: That's what the Art House cinemas do.

SANDERS: Russ Collins runs the Art House Convergence, a collection of independent theaters. Collins group actually organized a change.org petition, urging Sony to release the film. Collins says today independent and Art House theaters were doing what they've always done.

COLLINS: They're very committed to social justice issues, to freedom of speech and artistic expression.

SANDERS: And Collins says the list of theaters showing "The Interview" will grow. He stresses even through all of the back-and-forth over the film's release, these independent theater owners aren't upset with Sony.

JONATHAN HANDEL: We're not mad at Sony. It's a big and complicated world and people do what they have - do what they need to do based on the information that they have.

SANDERS: Jonathan Handel is an entertainment lawyer and a contributor to The Hollywood Reporter. Handel says today's news is good for Sony and for free speech, but it's not great financially because this release will still be small.

HANDEL: It seems like we're looking at something along the lines of 300 or so theaters, although, again, the situation's quite fluid so we don't know for sure. That's probably, roughly, a 10th of the number of theaters that Sony had expected the picture to open in.

SANDERS: And Handel says that smaller release likely means less money for Sony.

HANDEL: You're looking at substantially lower box office than they would've had otherwise.

SANDERS: Whatever money "The Interview" does or doesn't make, one man says he's happy. President Obama released a statement today saying he applauds Sony's decision to authorize screenings of the film and that he welcomes this outcome. Critics on the other hand aren't so excited. The site Rotten Tomatoes, which averages reviews, gives it a 53 percent rating. Sam Sanders, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.