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This Is What It Was Like Seeing "The Interview" On Christmas Day

"Let freedom ring!" a movie theater employee told the crowd before the showing began.

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11:30 a.m.: I head down to Cinema Village in New York — one of only two theaters in the city showing The Interview — an hour before showtime.

Emily Orley / BuzzFeed

I purchased a ticket online two days prior for the 12:30 p.m. showing at Cinema Village in Greenwich Village. Considering the threats that led Sony to pull the movie in the first place and increased attention since that decision was reversed on Tuesday, I want to get there about an hour before showtime to brave the lines and security.

11:35 a.m.: I arrive at Cinema Village to find neither a line nor increased security.

Emily Orley / BuzzFeed

When I get to the theater at 12th Street and University, there's no one around. Three cameras have been set up, but two are abandoned momentarily. I walk right up to the box office to get my ticket, and then I stand around waiting. No people, no security, no nothing. There are two ropes set up for lines that don't exist: one for the box office, another for entry into the theater. Cinema Village had six showings of The Interview on Dec. 25, and I was told all were sold out.


11:47 a.m.: Five people have gathered to enter the movie theater.

I overhear one saying, "If this was the greatest publicity stunt in history...," speaking to the theory that Sony pulled and then reinstated the film as a marketing ploy.

11:52 a.m.: The first screening of The Interview, which started at 10 a.m., ends and people begin filtering out of the theater.

"There's not enough marijuana in the world to explain that screenplay," a middle-aged man tells me quickly as he exits the theater. "It was hilarious."

Another middle-aged couple stops to chat with me as they head out of the early showing. "We thought it would be funny and it was funny," Ryan says. "We were going to see a movie today anyway, but this seemed like a good one to see and I don't know if we came to make a statement..." He's interrupted by Jen, who says, "No! Who cares about that? It was funny. It was absolutely [worth the hype]." "I don't know if it was worth all the hype," Ryan adds with a laugh. "But it was a funny movie. We woke up this morning and every other screening was sold out. Who cares [about security]? It was a funny movie. Why not? It's Christmas! Have fun!"

11:56 a.m.: The crowd for the 12:30 showing is in full force.

Emily Orley / BuzzFeed

The college-age clientele The Interview was probably intended for were not seeing it on Christmas Day — not in theaters, at least. Most of the people in line are in their fifties or sixties.

"I came to make a statement" and "freedom of speech" were phrases I heard over and over. One couple tells me they had intended on seeing Big Eyes today but changed their plans when they found out The Interview was being screened.

But not everyone's decision to see the film had to do with the political component. "It was something to do. Everything else is closed," one moviegoer from New Jersey, who appears to be in his twenties and is there with his girlfriend, tells me. "Just had an interest in the movie. Seems kind of funny." His girlfriend says she was "kind of nervous" about coming to the theater, but her boyfriend chimes to say he isn't at all. "I'm not really surprised about the lack in security. I don't really think they took the threat seriously," he says. And though they know they could see the film from the comfort of their own home (it's available in the U.S. on YouTube, Microsoft Xbox, Google Play, and Sony's website), they say they "wanted the movie experience."

12 p.m.: Ticket holders for the 12:30 screening are ushered into the theater.

Emily Orley / BuzzFeed

I still haven't seen a police officer anywhere and the crowd is moving so fast, I almost accidentally pass the guy ripping tickets without giving him mine. Cinema Village itself is small and the theaters are even tinier, but The Interview is screening in the largest theater there.

12:19 p.m.: A camera crew from outside has been allowed into the theater.

Crews from CNN, NY1, ABC, a Japanese news outlet, and a Korean news outlet have all gathered outside of Cinema Village by the time we are let in.

A Cinema Village employee is accompanying the crew. He tells another employee that cameras will not be allowed in during the show, and to check for audience members trying to pirate the movie. But, he adds, anyone can film before because "this is a part of history."


12:30 p.m.: That same employee with the camera crew heads to the front of the theater, stands in front of the screen, and thanks everyone for "coming out on Christmas Day to support our right to watch whatever we want... Let freedom ring!"

As the lights dim, there are still a few empty seats around, despite my being told it was a sold-out show. There are no previews at Cinema Village, which seems especially appropriate today: Everyone is here for one thing and one thing only.

12:31 p.m.: As the movie starts, people begin clapping.

But the audience involvement doesn't end there. In fact, it only increases. People are laughing hysterically throughout almost the entire movie and [SPOILER ALERT] James Franco's character and Kim Jong Un singing a Katy Perry song really sends the group over the edge.

2:09 p.m.: About five people enter the theater and stand in the back to see the last few scenes.

Again, it seems security isn't that tight. (After the movie, I ask the manager about that and he says a lot of measures had been taken to make sure nothing happened today. "The cops are involved and they're watching us," he says. "You don't see them but they are there.")

2:22 p.m.: The credits start rolling and the entire theater breaks into uproarious applause.

"We thought it was funny, and the audience participation was very funny," says Chris, who's in town from Philadelphia with her husband and son, who appears to be in his twenties. "Everybody was happy to be part of it and clapping at the end of a movie that wasn't worth clapping for, but just the whole feeling of being part of this day. It was really fun," she adds. "We came as a family. My son wanted to see it and protest by coming to see it. We came purposefully just to be part of the day. Everyone was here seeing it. We felt like it was part of the news!"

Emily Orley is an entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Orley reports on the television industry.

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