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Sony Hack Theaters

A banner for "The Interview"is posted outside Arclight Cinemas, on Dec. 17, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. 

Joe Mclean, owner of the Pharaohplex in Hamilton, isn't too worried about threats from North Korea over his screening of "The Interview."

"This is Montana," he said with a laugh. "It's not a problem. We've played controversial stuff in the past."

His plan to screen the film on Christmas Day is back on, after a Tuesday announcement from Sony Pictures Entertainment that the movie will play in a limited number of independent theaters.

Mclean had already booked the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy in which the hermetic country's dictator, Kim Jong Un, is assassinated, before it spiraled into an international incident.

Hackers, whom the FBI linked to North Korea, broke into Sony's computer system and leaked thousands of internal emails and private information in retaliation. Threats were also made against major theaters that booked the film.

The major chains canceled their bookings last week, and Sony pulled the plug on the release entirely by Friday.

President Barack Obama, who criticized the studio's decision, praised Tuesday's announcement.

"The president applauds Sony's decision to authorize screenings of the film," Obama spokesman Eric Schultz told the Associated Press. "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."


Mclean, who built the six-screen, 750-seat Pharaohplex in 2001, said people in the Bitterroot and Missoula valleys "like to have access to all kinds of movies."

Since the cancellation notices last week, he posted on the Pharaohplex website a number of self-described rants expressing his disappointment in the way the film was censored.

He said he received a lot of words of support from residents.

"They came in and thanked us for our comments and hoped we'd be able to prevail and it looked like we did," Mclean said.

Not that he's taking a Rogen-Franco comedy too seriously.

"I realized this movie is silly," he said. "It's not something to take seriously – it's probably not even that good. It's a matter of principle now."

He had originally planned on a double feature with "Team America: World Police," which mocks Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, in the form of a puppet musical. Paramount Pictures, however, pulled any such bookings.

But "The Interview" will go on.

"Hopefully people will support us, he said. "And freedom of speech continues on."

Mclean's current plan is to screen the film at 3 and 9 p.m. on Christmas Day. Call (406) 961-3456 or visit to check showtimes.

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Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Entertainment editor for the Missoulian.