'The Interview' Opens to Singing, Sold-Out Crowds as Sony CEO Explains His Decision to Show Film

Sony CEO Michael Lynton explains the decision to release the film.

— -- Sony is thanking theater-goers for watching the limited release of "The Interview," which grossed over $1 million in its first day in theaters.

"Considering the incredibly challenging circumstances, we are extremely grateful to the people all over the country who came out to experience 'The Interview' on the first day of its unconventional release," Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures Entertainment, said in a statement today. "The audience reaction was fantastic - the limited release, in under 10% of the amount of theaters originally planned, featured numerous sell-outs and a first-day gross over $1 million."

"It was essential for our studio to distribute this movie, especially given the assault on our business and on our staff," Lynton said in a video obtained by ABC News.

Yahoo Movies writer Jordan Zakarin said, "It would have been a major black eye for the company had they not done so."

At least one crowd in Atlanta couldn't help but sing along to "God Bless America," but the reception isn't all rosy.

Less than a week ago, following growing threats by hackers to carry out an attack like that of Sept. 11, 2001, Sony pulled "The Interview" from its planned theatrical release, but then backpedaled.

Hackers released personal information of Sony employees and email correspondence between executives. The FBI and State Department pointed fingers at North Korea. The isolated country denied responsibility for the attack but a government official called it a “righteous deed” in the state media.