By Emily Trube

By Emily Trube | @KRLDEmily

DALLAS (KRLD) — Hundreds of North Texans spent their Christmas watching “The Interview.” The Texas Theatre in Dallas was packed.

Barak Epstein with Aviation Cinemas, who runs the one-screen movie house on Jefferson Boulevard in Oak Cliff, says his last-minute deal with Sony to screen the controversial movie almost didn’t happen.

“The whole thing is insane,” says Epstein. “We weren’t even planning to be open today.”

It was announced on Tuesday that Sony would allow “The Interview” to be released to small chains and individual theaters whose owners were willing to show the comedy about a plot to kill the North Korean dictator. Alamo Drafthouse and the Art House Convergence led the campaign to get the film released, after concerns about attacks prompted the nation’s larger theater chains to drop the film.

Epstein signed on immediately.

“This is a movie that, as of six days ago, a foreign government censored for us,” he says. “Because it’s now open, we are adamant that we should let the people choose what movies they want to see.”

There was just one problem — the historic theater did not have the equipment needed in order to show the movie. “The Interview” was released in a relatively new digital format called Digital Cinema Package, or DCP, which requires a “D-Cinema” projector.

“When we started the theater a few years ago, we spent a lot to retrofit the theater to show 35 mm. And we show a form of digital projection that is not Hollywood compliant,” Epstein says.

Last fall, the Texas Theatre launched a crowd-sourcing campaign to buy a D-Cinema projector and was successful in raising the money, but the equipment order had not come in yet.

“We ordered our gear at the beginning of December and we were waiting and waiting. At the end of the day, I was able to pull some strings and we got the gear installed.”

Epstein declined to elaborate on what “strings” he pulled. He just laughed and said he “had to make a lot of calls.”

The new equipment will allow the Texas Theatre to show more first-run films and continue to expand the theater’s audience, which Epstein says got a huge bump yesterday. The controversy and hype surrounding “The Interview” helped to pack the house for yesterday’s four showings.

“For the rest of the week, we’re showing it once a day, and we’ll see if we can keep it going,” says Epstein. “Sony’s being very receptive to theaters that already had films booked and saying, ‘Hey, whenever you can fit it in, let’s show it.'”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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