In a dramatic reversal of policy, Sony Pictures has announced that it is investigating ways to play The Interview, the North Korea comedy film starring Seth Rogan and James Franco.
The company originally cancelled playing the film on 25 December following threats by a hacker group calling itself Guardians of the Peace.
Sony said it only cancelled the Christmas Day release after major US theatre chains pulled out of showing the film.
Sony said it was yesterday it was "surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform".
The position is a wildly different one from Sony's statement on the 17 December, which said:
In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned 25 December theatrical release.
Regal Cinemas and AMC Theatres were among the cinema chains which said they would not show The Interview as planned, citing security threats by hackers that breached Sony Corp’s computers.
Sony's position may well have been influenced by the statements of President Barack Obama on Friday.
President Obama intervenes
Yesterday, President Obama made his views on the controversy crystal clear. He said Sony had made a huge mistake in cancelling the release of The Interview:
There were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced.
Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake. I wish they had spoken to me first.
I would have told then, "Do not get into a pattern in which you're intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks".
The President compared the situation to the Boston Marathon terrorist attack last year, when even after the bombing took place the race went on and some runners after completing the Marathon ran two extra miles to the hospital to donate blood.
Chief executive of Sony Michael Lynton speaking to CNN yesterday said the corporation had not made a mistake:
We have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered and we have not backed down
Let us be clear - the only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theatres, after the theatre owners declined to show it.
It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so
Deep in the heart of Texas
Many were outraged that Sony decided to pull The Interview with many Hollywood actors and free speech campaigners condemning the move as giving in to the hackers and allowing them to dictate the cultural life of a free society.
However, many theatres decided to take matters into their own hands and make their views on the matter felt. After Sony cancelled the release of The Interview the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Texas decided instead to screen Team America: World Police that mercilessly mocks the now deceased North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Many other American cinemas have decided to follow suit.
The White House recently announced that the hack on Sony was a “serious national security matter” and America's security agencies would be working round the clock to counter the threats from groups such as Guardians of the Peace that threatened Sony with violence unless the film was cancelled.
However, the US has held back from confirming a link between the hackers and North Korea.
Josh Earnest, a spokesperson for the White House, said:
There is evidence to indicate that we have seen destructive activity with malicious intent that was initiated by a sophisticated actor and it is being treated by investigative agencies, both at the FBI and the Department of Justice, as seriously as you would expect.