MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – After days of back and forth, a movie that many thought would never be shown to the public is now playing.

“The Interview” opened nationally in limited release.

St. Anthony Main Theatre was the only theater in the Twin Cities with a Christmas Day showing of the comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.

The two opening day screenings were sold out days in advance.

“The two showings are sold out, and the next one after that, tomorrow, is sold out too,” said Kevin Kelly who tried to buy tickets for the film.

The Interview is marketed as a comedy about a plot to kill the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.  But many at the early showing weren’t buying tickets on the movie’s merits.

“I didn’t know the plot,” said Anna Smedsrud of Eden Prairie. “All I really knew was what I’d seen on the news about it. I guess I wanted to see it because of the hype.”

Sony pulled the initial release because of threats from hackers last week. Earlier this week the company decided on a limited release and suddenly a crass comedy became so much more.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure I wanted to see it to begin with,” Kelly said, “but when this whole Sony controversy came out, I was like, I have to go see The Interview and make a stand against censorship.”

“I think a lot of people who wouldn’t see the movie are going to see the movie now,” said Niles Schwartz, a film critic.

Like many theaters around the country, there was police presence to help ensure freedom of expression, though most had little fear.

“The threats that we’re going to have bomb theaters that run it–it’s just ridiculous,” said Angie Hirsch of Minneapolis.

The Film Society of Minneapolis/St. Paul is responsible for bringing the movie to St. Anthony Main Theatre. On its website the organization offered this statement:

“Although this film may not be typical of the films we generally screen, we made a decision to do so from a philosophical standpoint – that of artistic freedom, creative license and defense against censorship.”

Leaving the theater, moviegoers had more to say about the comedy rather than the controversy surrounding it.

“It was better than I thought it would be,” said Nick Peine of Minneapolis.

“The whole movie is goofy and unrealistic, but if you take away the hype, I still think it was a worthwhile comedy,” said Austin Knott of Red Wing.

The movie is also available online.

Even with all this publicity, industry insiders expect the movie to earn less than it would have before the controversy began.

The Interview will continue to show at St. Anthony Main Theatre through next Thursday.

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