- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - An Atlanta movie theater is among those planning to screen a film that provoked tension with North Korea and a cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Tickets for Christmas Day screenings of “The Interview,” a comedy that features an outlandish plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, went on sale at the Plaza Theatre late Tuesday afternoon.

The Plaza was among the independent theaters that announced plans to screen the film as part of a limited release after Sony scuttled its distribution to larger theater chains. Hackers threatened violence against moviegoers and theaters that screened the movie.

Plaza Theatre owner Michael Furlinger said Tuesday that he’s thrilled to be able to screen the film.

“We play a lot of controversial pictures, things I don’t necessarily agree with, but I will never censor them,” he said. “It’s not for me to decide. It’s for the customer to decide. If they want to come, they’ll spend their money. If they don’t, that’s their choice. It should not be the choice of somebody from North Korea or China or anywhere else.”

Atlanta Police spokesman Sgt. Greg Lyon said the department is aware of plans to show the film and will monitor the location for potential threats but would not discuss specifics. Furlinger said he wasn’t worried about threats of violence but the theatre will take some precautions.

Hopeful theatergoers trickled into the Atlanta theater early Tuesday afternoon, ready to buy tickets for themselves and friends and were quickly told to check back later in the day. The theater, which seats about 500 people at a time, doesn’t sell tickets ahead of time or do sales online except for special events, said Christopher Escobar, executive director of the Atlanta Film Festival who often works with the theatre.

Colby Cohen, 29, of Atlanta came to the Plaza shortly after 1 p.m. planning to buy five tickets for a Christmas Day showing. He had been chatting with some friends when the news broke that an Atlanta theater near his house would show the film. Cohen said he’s a fan of actors Seth Rogen and James Franco and probably would have seen the film. But Sony’s brief cancellation in response to hackers’ threats “completely changes things.”

“I want to see it a lot more,” Cohen said. “I’m going to get to fight terrorism on Christmas Day now.”

Another hopeful turned away on Tuesday afternoon, Anthony LoRusso, 54, of Atlanta, said he would have waited for DVD release to see the movie before the controversy and called it “silly.”

“But no one’s going to tell us what we’re going to watch, where we’re going to watch, how we’re going to watch,” LoRusso said. “It’s legal. I’m going.”

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