Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said that Seth Rogen's North Korea farce "will be in a number of theatres on Christmas Day." He said Sony also is continuing its efforts to release the film on more platforms and in more theatres.

"We have never given up on releasing 'The Interview,'" Lynton said in a statement today. "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."

Moviegoers celebrated the abrupt change in fortune for a film that appeared doomed. 'The Interview' began popping up in the listings of a handful of independent theatres today, including the Alamo Drafthouse in Texas and Atlanta's Plaza Theatre.

One of the loudest critics of the film's shelving President Barack Obama hailed Sony's reversal. "The president applauds Sony's decision to authorize screenings of the film," said Obama spokesman Eric Schultz.

"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 theatres allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome," the spokesman said.

Rogen, who stars in the film he co-directed with Evan Goldberg, made his first public comments in a surreal ordeal that began with hackers leaking Sony executives' emails and culminated in a confrontation between the US and North Korea.

The FBI has said North Korea was "centrally involved" in the hacking attacks. "The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn't give up!" said Rogen on Twitter.

"VICTORY!!!!!!!" said James Franco, who co-stars in the film. "The PEOPLE and THE PRESIDENT have spoken."

North Korea suffered sweeping Internet outages in an apparent attack yesterday that followed President Barack Obama's vows of a response to what he called North Korea's "cyber vandalism" of Sony. The White House and State Department declined to say whether the US government was responsible.

After hackers on last Wednesday threatened terrorist attacks against theatres showing the film, the nation's major multiplex chains dropped 'The Interview'. Sony soon thereafter cancelled the film's release altogether and removed mention of it from its websites.

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