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US cinemas screen The Interview movie

The Interview, the Sony Pictures film about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, opened in more than 300 cinemas across the United States on Christmas Day.

It drew sell-out audiences in many movie theatres, where punters said they were championing freedom of expression.

Seth Rogen, who co-stars in the low-budget comedy with James Franco, and co-director Evan Goldberg surprised moviegoers by appearing at a screening in Los Angeles.

ITV News' Rebecca Barry reports.

Independent cinemas start screening The Interview

After pulling the release from major theaters following alleged cyber threats from North Korea, Sony Pictures has reached a deal with several independent theaters to show The Interview on Christmas Day.

Tickets for the film The Interview is seen held up by theater manager Donald Melancon for the media at Crest Theater in Los Angeles. Credit: Reuters

Small movie houses in New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles are among those planning to screen the film. The Christmas Day openings follow an online release of the film by Sony on Wednesday.

A cinema displays The Interview. Credit: Reuters

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The Interview will be streamed online from today

The film stars James Franco (left) and Seth Rogen (right). Credit: Reuters

Comedy film The Interview will be available for rental and purchase online from later today on YouTube, Google Play, Microsoft Xbox Video and on its own dedicated website, Sony has announced.

The distributor initially withdrew the film from cinemas last week after a cyber-attack that the FBI has blamed on North Korea - the nation whose leader is assassinated in the spoof film.

On Tuesday the film was made available to cinemas for limited release, beginning on Christmas Day.

YouTube 'set to stream The Interview online'

Google's YouTube unit has tentatively agreed to stream the controversial film The Interview, reports suggest.

Sony initially withdrew the film from cinemas over security fears. Credit: Reuters

It will offer online rentals starting on Thursday, CNN reported.

The release comes after Sony agreed to show the controversial movie at around 200 cinemas - less than a week after pulling the film's planned release over security fears following a devastating cyber attack blamed on North Korea.

President Obama welcomed the decision to show the film, having criticised the decision to withdraw it from cinemas as a "mistake".

The Interview to be screened in more than 200 cinemas

Sony Pictures comedy The Interview will now be screened in more than 200 cinemas, a spokesman said.

It comes after the studio scrapped a wide release last week over security fears made by hackers over the plot line to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

The film will be be released in America on Christmas Day.

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Obama 'applauds' Sony decision to show The Interview

President Obama welcomed Sony's decision, the White House said. Credit: Reuters

President Barack Obama has welcomed the decision from Sony to release "The Interview" in some cinemas.

"The president applauds Sony's decision to authorise screenings of the film," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement.

"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," Schultz said.

Seth Rogen reacts to Sony announcement: 'Freedom has prevailed!'

Comic actor Seth Rogen had this reaction on Twitter to Sony's decision to release The Interview at some cinemas:

Sony announces 'limited release' of The Interview

Sony Pictures Entertainment has announced that its film, The Interview, will have a "limited release" on Christmas day.

A statement from the company's CEO said it was trying to "secure more platforms and more theaters" to show the film:

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. 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.

– Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO, Sony Entertainment

Sony 'authorises screenings' of The Interview

Sony initially cancelled the film's release after threats from hackers. Credit: Reuters

Sony has reversed its decision to cancel the release of The Interview, according to Tim League, who runs independent cinemas in Texas.

The Associated Press news agency said several cinemas had confirmed Sony's decision.

Sony is yet to comment.

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