SURREY â€” Security guards and local police circled Newtonâ€™s Hollywood 3 Cinema on Friday after 1 p.m. as hundreds filed in to see the big screen debut of The Interview.
The Surrey theatre was one of few in British Columbia to screen the controversial comedy.
The film â€” a political comedy that details a fictional plot to kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un starring Seth Rogen and James Franco â€” was slated to be released in theatres on Christmas Day.
The movie was pulled by Sony Pictures Entertainment on Dec. 16 after hackers made terror threats to the company, and some theatre chains cancelled their screenings.
Theatre proprietor Rahim Manji, who also recently acquired South Surreyâ€™s Rialto Twin Cinemas and Caprice Cinemas, screened The Interview at both the Newton and Pitt Meadowsâ€™ Hollywood 3 Cinemas starting Friday (Jan. 2).
â€œWe started talking to Sony last week because we had it booked in our White Rock theatre and when they pulled it. Obviously we couldnâ€™t play it, so we had to play one of their other movies,â€ Manji revealed to the Now in late December.
The theatre owner showed the film at the Hollywood 3 Cinemas locations for a cheaper rate, as both of the Hollywood 3 Cinemas are â€œsecond-run theatres.â€
â€œWe worry about our guests and we worry about our staff but for us not to play a movie because of a terrorist organization, itâ€™s kind of ridiculous,â€ he said before Fridayâ€™s launch.
As of 9:30 p.m. Friday, the filmâ€™s last showtime of the day, over 500 people had come in to see The Interview.
â€œIn the free world right now, it never should have been pulled. Free speech and all. Seth Rogen is from Vancouver, so this is his hometown,â€ Manji said.
The Interview was filmed in Metro Vancouver, and local filming landmarks include Vancouverâ€™s Ascot Lounge, the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza and the PNE Forum.
â€œI think itâ€™s the right thing to do. People should be able to come and see it. Let them make the decision whether they want to come see it or not. It shouldnâ€™t be the choice of the hackers, it shouldnâ€™t be because of them that people arenâ€™t seeing it. Let it be the choice of the people.â€
Manji also noted that his second-run theatres have brand new seats, and the same sound and projection systems as â€œthe majors,â€ but for a fraction of the cost.
The cost of tickets are $3.50 for matinees and $4.75 after 6 p.m.
Check showtimes for the cinema here.