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Sony is now going to release The Interview to "the largest possible audience"

Only 200-300 cinemas are, however, expected to show the film.

Updated 9.15 pm

SONY PICTURES IS to release ‘The Interview’ in a limited number of cinemas on Christmas Day, reversing an earlier decision not to show the film.

The studio had cancelled its release of the move after hackers had leaked information from Sony and threatened theatres who showed it.

The decision by Sony to back down in the face of the threats was criticised by US President Barack Obama as the US laid the blame for the hack at the feet of North Korea.

The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco,  is understood to have offended North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un with its plot to assassinate him.

Sony had cancelled the planned Christmas Day release of the film but chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment Michael Lynton has this evening confirmed that that decision has been reversed.

“We have never given up on releasing The Interview and we’re excited our movie will be in a number of theatres on Christmas Day,” he said. “At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theatres 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.
The release of the film is likely to be limited to smaller movie chains. The New York Times reported that only 200-300 cinemas were expected to show the film after Sony, a fraction of the estimated 2,500 theatrws originally expected to screen the movie.
Theatres in Austin, Texas and Atlanta were among the first to confirm plans to show the movie on Tuesday.

It’s believed that Sony will also seek to release the the movie through an online video-on-demand service.

President Obama has now welcomed the decision by Sony Pictures to release the movie.

“As the President made clear, we are a country that believes in free speech, and the right of artistic expression,” spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters.

“The decision made by Sony and participating theatres allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome.”

- Additional reporting by © – AFP 2014

Read: Obama: ‘We will respond’ to North Korea hack >

Read: Hackers have scared Hollywood into not releasing Seth Rogen’s new North Korea film >

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