Sony Hacking: 200-Plus Movie Theaters Will Show 'The Interview' Starting Christmas Day

Comes after public outrage about agreeing to hackers demands.

ByABC News
December 23, 2014, 1:11 PM

— -- More than 200 movie theaters around the country will be screening the controversial film "The Interview" on the original air date of Christmas Day, Sony said tonight.

The Alamo Drafthouse theater in Texas confirmed today that it will be showing the film, as did another theater in Atlanta, Georgia.

"We have never given up on releasing The Interview and we're excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day,"Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment, said in a statement released this afternoon.

"At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience," Lynton said.

The President reiterated the White House's support for the move, with spokesman Eric Schultz stating: "The President applauds Sony's decision to authorize screenings of the film. 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."

Theaters who want to show the film are reportedly contacting Sony representatives directly and scheduling the bookings, meaning that the number of theaters deciding to show the film is likely to increase in the coming hours and days, a source told ABC News.

"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," Lynton said in his statement.

"The Interview" was initially pulled by production company Sony Pictures Entertainment from theaters after hackers threatened to attack theaters where the film was screened.

The movie, a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco that depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, sparked the ire of a hacking group that identified itself as "Guardians of Peace." The U.S. government has reported that the group is connected to the North Korean government.

The film's stars posted about their excitement on their widely-followed social media accounts. Franco took the opportunity to both praise and tease President Obama, who, in last week's press conference, accidentally referred to James Franco as James Flacco. The actor returned the favor today, posting on Instagram: "CELEBRATING!!!!! "The Interview" starring Seth Rogen and James Flacco saved by President Obacco! I MEAN PRESIDENT OBAMA!!!!! Sorry!!!"

The hacking group infiltrated Sony's computer system, released at least five of their movies online as well as embarrassing personal emails between studio executives. The group then threatened to attack theaters that were showing "The Interview" and made reference to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, prompting all major movie chains to announce that they would not be showing the film.

After those announcements, Sony said they were pulling the film altogether -- a move that sparked outcry on the grounds that it was perceived as buckling to the demands of terrorists. President Obama even called the decision a "mistake."