Sony has reversed its decision to pull controversial North Korean film The Interview, pushing ahead with screenings despite threats from cyber-criminals.
The comedy film, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, will have a limited release on Christmas Day at 200 theatres across the US.
It is a u-turn on the studio’s decision last week to axe the film’s cinema release after its plot, which involves a plan to assassinate North Korean president Kim Jong Un, sparked threats from hackers linked to the country, according to the FBI.
Sony CEO Michael Lynton said: “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.
“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.”
Rogen, who also directed the movie, welcomed Sony’s reversal and tweeted "The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn't give up!".
The film maker's initial reaction to pull the film drew the ire of US President Barack Obama and some high profile Hollywood stars inlcuding George Clooney, who criticised it for caving in to pressure from the criminals. Last week, Obama warned the decision could set a precedent in which “some dictator some palce can start imposing censorship here in the United States”.
Hackers had promised a 9/11 style attack should the film’s release go ahead. The threat formed part of wider cyber assault on the studio, which led to sensitive emails about actors, films and empoyees being leaked. The studio has threatened to sue Twitter if the social network does not suspend accounts containing links to hacked emails.