TAMPA -- Critics and early viewers agree that "The Interview" is less than a masterpiece. But it has become an event.
It will play locally at the Tampa Theatre and may be on its way to the Tampa Pitcher Show on Dale Mabry Highway next month.
Showtimes are 10:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 26-27 and January 2-3. Tickets are $11 for adults and $9 for Tampa Theatre Members, seniors and military, available at the Tampa Box office or online at www.tampatheatre.org.
Hundreds of theaters Thursday, from The Edge 8 in Greenville, Alabama, to Michael Moore's Bijou by the Bay in Traverse City, Michigan, made special holiday arrangements for the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Sony Pictures had initially called off the release after major theater chains dropped the movie that was to have opened on as many as 3,000 screens.
At Atlanta's Plaza Theater, a sell-out crowd Thursday hailed the film's release, washing down popcorn with beer and cocktails and uniting for a boisterous sing-along of "God Bless America" before the opening credits.
"This is way more fun than it would have been," said Jim Kelley of Atlanta, who waited outside with his daughter, Shannon. The elder Kelley added, with mocking sarcasm, "This is almost dangerous, like we're living life on the edge."
Security was light at many theaters, with the occasional police officer on hand. The possibility of violence was taken more seriously by the movie industry than by government officials. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying that there were no credible threats.
Meanwhile, Darrell Foxworth, a special agent for the FBI in San Diego, said Wednesday the agency was sharing information with independent movie theater owners showing "The Interview" out of "an abundance of caution" and to educate them about cyber threats and what help the FBI can offer.
Kim Song, a North Korean diplomat to the United Nations, condemned the release Wednesday, calling the movie an "unpardonable mockery of our sovereignty and dignity of our supreme leader." But Kim said North Korea will likely limit its response to condemnation, with no "physical reaction."
A few dozen people lined up early outside Tempe, Arizona's Valley Art theater, where tickets for all five showings on Thursday had sold out. "There are a lot of people going crazy over (the controversy). It's bigger than the movie," said Omar Khiel, 20.
At the Cinema Village theater in Manhattan, the 10 a.m. screening was near capacity. Derek Karpel, a 34-year-old attorney, said that "as many people as possible should go see it. In fact, the government should subsidize tickets to make that possible."
But he wasn't about to call "The Interview" a national treasure.
"No one should go into expecting it to be a serious commentary on politics," he said. "But it's fun. People should go."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.