No problems at sold out 'Interview' screenings

Moviegoers seeking laughs or looking to make a political statement rushed to two of the suburban movie theaters that elected to show "The Interview" on Christmas.

So many people came to see "The Interview" at midnight on Christmas that owner Debbie Benjamin had to open an additional screen at Buffalo Grove Theatres.

At Hollywood Blvd, 1001 W. 75th St. in Woodridge, co-owner Mike Moore said tickets for their Christmas showings sold out by 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Buffalo Grove and Woodridge are independent movie houses that agreed to show the Seth Rogan comedy despite threats that the U.S. government says are coming from North Korea.

"Americans, we don't wimp out," Moore said, looking at the hundreds of people in line waiting to get into their seats. "This just shows you what kind of country this is, the people who live here and what we stand for."

More than 275 people packed into the two screening rooms in Buffalo Grove for the midnight showing. They watched the Seth Rogan-James Franco comedy without any a hint of trouble, Benjamin said.

"We honestly didn't think anything was going to happen, and nothing happened," she said.

Benjamin said she wasn't concerned about safety at the theater, but did hire an off-duty police officer to provide additional security for customers who may have been nervous.

The Buffalo Grove Police Department also had a more frequent presence at the theater last night, she said.

Donnie Perez, who drove out to Woodridge from Chicago to see "The Interview," said he wasn't concerned about his safety at the theater.

"The cops outside got everything under control, it looks like," Perez said.

Two police cruisers were parked outside the Woodridge theater with their lights on as people streamed in before the 4:30 p.m. screening.

Moore said there haven't been any threats and he didn't anticipate any threats, "unless they're really that stupid," he added with a laugh.

Benjamin said she hasn't seen the movie yet, but the few times she went to check on the theater, people seemed to be laughing and enjoying themselves.

"People wanted to see it, and we felt like it was a moral issue," Benjamin said of her decision to screen the film that was pulled from thousands of theaters nationwide last week.

Moviegoers came from as far as Wisconsin and Indiana to see the film in Buffalo Grove Wednesday night.

"I think it does make a statement by showing the movie because we feel that if people want to see something and we have the capability of bringing it here, no would should tell us otherwise," Benjamin said. "That's part of being an American citizen. It's a comedy, for God's sake."

Antonio Magallon arrived at the Woodridge theater wearing a large Russian-style winter hat that had a hammer and sickle emblem.

"I came here more as a part of freedom of speech rather than the actual movie itself, but I'm actually looking forward to it," said Magallon, who drove from Chicago to see the movie on the big screen.

The Buffalo Grove Theatres, 120 McHenry Road, will be showing "The Interview" at 10:15 a.m. and midnight until Jan. 1, and will add more screenings after that.

According to their website, Hollywood Blvd in Woodridge will show the movie three to five times daily through Jan 1.

The film was shown in about 300 independently owned theaters starting Thursday, and is available for purchase on digital platforms including Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft's Xbox video and Sony's website.

  Owner Debbie Benjamin explains why Buffalo Grove Theatres showed the movie "The Interview" starting at midnight Christmas Day. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
  Moviegoers make their way into the theater at the Hollywood Blvd in Woodridge for the theater's first screening of "The Interview" on Christmas Day. Scott Sanders/
  The line was so long for "The Interview" Thursday at The Hollywood Blvd theater in Woodridge that it filled the lobby and spilled out on to the street. Scott Sanders/
  The line was so long for "The Interview" Thursday at The Hollywood Blvd theater in Woodridge that it filled the lobby and spilled out on to the street. Scott Sanders/
  Woodridge police maintained a low-key presence outside the Hollywood Blvd theater Thursday for the screening of "The Interview" Thursday. Officers watched from several patrol cars outside and were seen inside as well. No trouble happened before the 4:30 p.m. screening. Scott Sanders/
  Several posters for "The Interview" were on display in the lobby of The Hollywood Blvd theater in Woodridge Thursday. Scott Sanders/
  The Hollywood Blvd theater co-owner Michael Moore spoke about how happy he is that "The Interview" is being shown despite protests from North Korea. Scott Sanders/
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