After Sony's U-turn on releasing The Interview, the controversial movie played in 331 independent cinemas across America on Christmas Day, often to sellout crowds. Many moviegoers made it clear they were there to take a political stand, with one ticket seller in California dressed as "Uncle Sam-ty Claus," the New York Times reports. "We are taking a stand for freedom," the manager of the Cinema Village East in Manhattan tells the AP. "We want to show the world that Americans will not be told what we can or cannot watch. Personally, I am not afraid." Security was light at most theaters, though some had police officers standing by.
Co-directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen made a surprise appearance at a screening in Los Angeles, where they thanked moviegoers for their support, reports Reuters. A North Korean diplomat, meanwhile, called the release an "unpardonable mockery" of the "dignity of our supreme leader," but said there would probably be no "physical reaction" from Pyongyang. In a first for a major studio, the movie had a simultaneous release online. The groundbreaking release strategy is being closely watched by the industry, although Sony says it won't release any immediate data on the number of sales or rentals, CNN reports.