24 Dec 2014

Obama praises Sony about-turn

10:55 am on 24 December 2014

US President Barack Obama has praised Sony Pictures for rethinking its decision to cancel the release of its spoof film about the North Korean leader.

After a devastating cyber attack on the Hollywood studio, and threats from hackers aimed at cinema audiences, Sony last week dropped its planned Christmas Day release of the movie The Interview.

North Korea denies the attack over The Interview, which depicts the fictional killing of its leader Kim Jong-Un.

North Korea denied it was responsible for the attack over The Interview, which depicts the fictional killing of its leader Kim Jong-Un. Photo: AFP

The comedy about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un led to a cyber attack on the studio, which the US government has blamed on North Korea.

North Korea denied it was responsible for the cyber attack.

In a statement this morning, Sony Pictures said there would be "limited theatrical release" of the movie in the United States.

The White House said President Barack Obama was pleased that Sony had rethought its decision. "The decision made by Sony and participating theatres allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome," presidential spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement.

It was unclear how many cinemas would be allowed to screen The Interview or whether major movie theatres that had decided not to open the film last week due to security concerns would join the group of authorised exhibitors.

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Photo: AFP

Two cinemas, one in Atlanta and another in Dallas, Texas said they planned to screen the film.

The Interview features James Franco and Seth Rogen as two journalists who are granted an audience with Mr Kim. The CIA then enlists the pair to assassinate him.

The film's cancelled release drew criticism in Hollywood, with some, such as George Clooney, calling it an attack on the freedom of expression.

At the time it shelved the movie, Sony said it had made the decision after most US cinemas chose not to screen the film, following the threats. Mr Obama said the decision to withdraw the film could set a bad precedent.

During the weekend, the head of Sony Pictures Michael Lynton rejected that criticism, saying movie theatres across the United States had told the studio they would not show the film after the hacker's threats.

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