Sony initially put the movie's release on ice after threats of terrorist attacks from hackers who stole and released countless documents -- many embarrassing -- from the studio last month. The attack, which the U.S. government has attributed to hackers backed by North Korea, was allegedly prompted by the comedy, which revolves around two Americans' plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The studio did not say how many theaters will be a part of the release. Washington’s independent West End cinema will be showing “The Interview” on Christmas. In Baltimore, Eastpoint 10 will screen the film, as will the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema One Loudoun in Ashburn, Va.
A Twitter message from the chief executive of Alamo Drafthouse, confirmed that that national chain will be a part of the film's release.
Another cinema, the Plaza Theater in Atlanta, also said on Twitter that it will be screening the film on Christmas. On Tuesday, both theater companies began listing Dec. 25 showtimes for the movie.
And George R.R. Martin, writer of the "Game of Thrones" series who owns a theater in Santa Fe, N.M, said he will be showing the movie four times on Christmas. He said Sony gave him the green light to show the film for two weeks.
Star and co-director of "The Interview" Seth Rogen celebrated on Twitter.
The studio has been the target of harsh criticism following its decision to pull the film. Last week, President Obama called the decision "a mistake."
After the public blowback for its decision to cancel the Christmas day release of "The Interview," Sony scrambled in the last day to negotiate the limited release of the film to about 200 screens out of the originally planned release for 3,800 screens, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.
Sony Pictures Entertainment told theater owners it would do a simultaneous release of the film online for Christmas day but didn't disclose details on which vendor would provide streaming or downloads of the film, according to the source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks were private.
It did not appear that the major theater chains, such as Regal and AMC, were part of the Christmas Day release plans.
A spokesman for Sony Pictures Entertainment said the studio is "still exploring other distribution options," and did not respond to questions about simultaneous online release plans. Netflix and Apple, which both have wide distribution platforms for streaming movies, declined to comment.
Movie theater owners have long balked at the idea of movies being released online at the same time they appear in theaters. Movie theaters have traditionally enjoyed first rights to show movies, part of a way to keep audiences coming to theaters when consumers have increasing options to watch movies at home.
Lynton did not address the question of whether the studio will release the film online over on-demand streaming services. But he did indicate this is not the last we'll hear of the film.
"While we hope this is only the first step of the film's release, we are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech," Lynton said.
The White House praised Sony's move on Tuesday.
"The President applauds Sony’s decision to authorize screenings of the film,” said Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman. “As the President made clear, we are a country that believes in free speech, and the right of artistic expression. The decision made by Sony and participating theaters allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome.”
North Korea's government did not immediately respond to Sony's decision. The isolationist nation's government has strongly rebuked "The Interview," but it has denied any involvement in the cyberattack against Sony.
But pressure has mounted against the North Korean government in the last few days. On Monday, North Korea's limited access to the Internet was shut down for more than nine hours. The UN General Assembly also held discussions on the nation's human rights abuses this week. In the past, North Korea has launched cyber and other military offenses around the holidays.
"There’s a lot of stuff coming together now," said Victor Cha, a senior fellow at the Center for International and Strategic and International Studies. It's "hard for me to think North Korea will remain quiet, especially because they like to do things around U.S. holidays."
Greg Jaffe, Michael O'Sullivan and Nora Krug contributed to this report.