- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - From Minneapolis to tiny Cold Spring, the Minnesota theaters premiering “The Interview” on Christmas Day are approaching the film with little of the trepidation that led Sony to cancel its release.

At least 10 Minnesota theaters plan to show the movie. And despite a hacking scandal, threats of violence and the ensuing media firestorm, managers from some of those theaters say it’s business as usual - with just a dash of extra anxiety.

“We’re not going to put metal detectors in,” Chuck Wiser, manager of The Quarry Cinema in Cold Spring, said with a laugh Wednesday.

In all, 300-some theaters nationwide will show the film after Sony’s reversal this week, following its cancellation of the film when a group of hackers linked with North Korea threatened violence. The movie stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists tasked by the CIA with killing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Minnesota theaters capitalized on Sony’s limited release - some in protest, others just for business.

“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,” Susan Smoluchowski, executive director of the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul, said in a statement. Her group is showing the film at St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis.

But for many of the five- and six-screen theaters in smaller pockets of Minnesota that got the movie, it wasn’t an act of defiance or protest.

In Cold Spring, Wiser just needed to fill an empty screen at his five-screen cinema - he had planned to show “The Interview” before Sony pulled it last week. Rick Stowell was in a similar situation at the Premiere Theatres in Cloquet.

“We’re not taking a stand on anything,” said Stowell, the theater owner.

For Thursday’s premiere, Wiser said he’ll give staff a pep talk and urge them to keep cellphones on them to dial 911 if needed. He admitted he’s on edge.

“I’d be a fool not to be,” he said. “It’s not going to stop us. I get more apprehension driving in rush-hour traffic.”

Up in International Falls, staff members at the Cine 5 Theatre aren’t expecting any “monkey business,” manager Maggie West said. But they’ve asked police to keep an eye on the theater and may ask patrons to leave backpacks and bags outside the auditorium.

Several theaters said they’re expecting a little extra Christmas Day traffic thanks to the buzz and drama around the movie.

“All of the sudden, there’s a spotlight on a small-town, five-screen theater,” Wiser said.

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