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Sony Announces Limited Release For 'The Interview'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Sony Pictures Entertainment has announced a limited theatrical release of "The Interview'' beginning Thursday, putting the comedy back into theaters.

"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,'' Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said in a statement Tuesday. "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.''

"I want to thank our talent on 'The Interview' and our employees, who have worked tirelessly through the many challenges we have all faced over the last month. 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 of fortune for a film that appeared doomed, as the film began popping up in the listings of a handful of independent theaters Tuesday.

The Alamo Drafthouse in Texas said earlier Tuesday that Sony had authorized it to screen the film starting Christmas Day. The Alamo's theater in Yonkers will be screening the film.

As CBS2's Jessica Schneider reported, tickets for the Christmas Day screening will soon go on sale.

The independent theater is one of about 200 across the country that Sony has agreed to distribute the film to.

"We are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech," Sony said in a statement.

Movie fans were enthusiastic about the film's release.

"It's just a movie. It's just a story," Scott Duncan said, "I come here once a week. There's no reason to be worried."

"Because of the controversy, yes. I would want to see," Jarrett Rivera said.

Yonkers police said they will pay close attention to the theater on Christmas Day. They are also offering Alamo the option to hire uniformed police officers for added security.

"There's always going to be a little bit of a risk. I'm on the side of the fence that says there's more of a risk in stepping down and not supporting this film," Alamo Drafthouse CEO, Tim League said.

Atlanta's Plaza Theater also said it would show the film.

After hackers -- believed to be in North Korea -- last Wednesday threatened violence against theaters showing the film, the nation's largest theater chains dropped the film. Sony soon thereafter canceled the film's release altogether.

North Korea denies any involvement in the massive cyber attack and is threatening strikes against the U.S. if the finger-pointing continues.

The movie stars James Franco and Seth Rogen who play journalists tasked by the CIA to assassinate North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.

Rogen took to Twitter to express his excitement that the film would be released after all, CBS2's Dick Brennan reported.

"The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn't give up! The Interview will be shown at theaters willing to play it on Xmas day!" Rogen wrote.

Sony's cancellation of the movie drew widespread criticism, including from President Barack Obama.

On Tuesday, the White House issued a statement lauding Sony's decision to release the film.

"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 statement said. "The decision made by Sony and participating theaters allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome."

Sony said it is working to get more platforms and more theaters to show the movie so it can reach the widest possible audience.

"The Interview" was projected to earn $30 million in its opening weekend of wide release. That number will be smaller now, but the controversy has generated perhaps even greater buzz from moviegoers.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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