SURREY â€” Surreyâ€™s Hollywood 3 Cinemas in Newton will be the first theatre in British Columbia to screen The Interview.
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, said he will be screening The Interview at both the Newton and Pitt Meadows Hollywood 3 Cinemas this 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 on Monday morning.
The theatre owner said he will be showing 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€
On Friday, The Interview will premiere in some theatres across Canada. Manji said he is doubtful that any attacks will happen as a result of the screenings, and that it was important for him to â€œtake a standâ€ for the entertainment business.
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.
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 hometown and obviously it would be nice if we were the only ones playing it.â€
Manji said he and his family will be at the theatre as the movie makes its screen debut in B.C. on Friday, and will be in touch with local authorities about playing the film.
â€œItâ€™s absolutely something that should have been shown the day it came out. We had it booked, we didnâ€™t pull it. We had reservations but we didnâ€™t pull it until Sony said no,â€ he admitted.
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 revealed that, in the 10 years he has been in the entertainment business, he has â€œneverâ€ come across this type of censorship.
â€œThis is the first time that anything like that has ever happened. There have been movies in the past that religious groups have protested, but they never watched the movie. At this point, itâ€™s virtually the same thing. Itâ€™s a group of people that protested it, so they hacked into Sonyâ€™s system and this big hooplah came about,â€ he said.
Still, he thinks the public deserves to see the film as it was intended, on the big screen.
â€œItâ€™s entertainment. Itâ€™s a movie. Itâ€™s not real life. I understand that itâ€™s touchy because itâ€™s touching on topics that are relevant and that are going on today,â€ he told the Now.
â€œWe understand that, in all actuality, itâ€™s just a movie,â€ he concluded.
He 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.
As The Interview was released online last week, of course the independent theatre mogul had to see it for himself. Asked if he thought the flickâ€™s subject matter was controversial, Manji said, â€œItâ€™s a comedy. Itâ€™s a Seth Rogen comedy â€“ thatâ€™s the only way to explain it.â€
Showtimes for The Interview on Friday, Jan. 2 at both the Surrey and Pitt Meadows locations are 1:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.