Lawyer Derek Karpel thought The Interview would be a horrible movie after reading some of the reviews, but told reporter Julie Walker that his opinion was a bit different after he saw the film on Thursday at Cinema Village in New York City.
"It's not a great movie — this is not Kubrick, this is a stupid Seth Rogen/James Franco movie," he said. "With that said, they were still very funny. I thought it was well done."
Web developer Nick Doiron, who was at the same screening, said he thought that the film lived up to the hype, and that the audience seemed to agree.
"People were laughing from the beginning through to the end, and then people applauded at the end," Doiron said.
The theater manager said Cinema Village had seven Christmas Day showings scheduled, and nearly all were sold out, Julie reports.
The Los Angeles Times reports that analysts see the $44 million movie, which was showing in 331 mostly independent theaters, pulling in $3 million to $4 million over the holiday weekend.
The Times also reports that the film's co-directors, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, made a surprise appearance at one Los Angeles showing. Rogen took the opportunity to speak to the crowd:
"You are the best. We thought this might not happen at all. ... If it wasn't for theaters like this, and people like you guys, this literally would not be ... happening."
The Interview was the target earlier this month of what the FBI says were North Korean hackers, who broke into Sony Pictures' computer systems, stole its employees personal data and released some embarrassing emails to the public.
The hackers followed up by threatening violence at the movie's Christmas Day showings, and after theaters began canceling showtimes Sony decided to pull the film from distribution, which would have put The Interview on as many as 3,000 screens Thursday.
Th cancellation prompted an outcry that went all the way up to President Obama and turned the film into a free-speech cause celebre, and Sony eventually backtracked on the film's withdrawal, allowing theaters to show it Thursday if they wanted and arranging for online distribution of the film that began late Wednesday.
The Associated Press notes that two companies streaming the movie, Microsoft and Sony, are experiencing significant outages in the networks used by their XBox and PlayStation video game consoles. The cause for either outage has not yet been determined, the AP reported.