Sony Pictures has cleared the way for a limited release of the film "The Interview" on Christmas Day, less than a week after pulling the comedy's planned premiere following a cyber-attack on the company.

A Sony executive announced the move in a statement on Tuesday.

"We have never given up on releasing The Interview and we're excited our movie will be in a number of theatres on Christmas Day," said Michael Lynton, the chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment.

The statement also added: "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," he added.

A Sony employee confirmed to Al Jazeera that the film will be released in approximately 300 to 500 independent theatres in the US. However, it is unclear how many theatres will screen the film.

The comedy about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un led to a cyber-attack on Sony, which the US government has blamed on North Korea. Pyongyang has denied the accusation.

Sony's cancellation of the movie following threats from hackers drew widespread criticism, including from President Barack Obama. 

A White House spokesman said Obama "applauded" Sony’s decision to authorise screenings of the film.

"The decision made by Sony and participating theatres allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome," spokesman Eric Schultz said.

Sony initially said it had no choice but to cancel the film's premiere because cinema chains pulled out, citing security fears.

The FBI said the hack of Sony rendered thousands of Sony's computers inoperable, forced Sony to take its entire computer network offline, stole proprietary information as well as employees' personally identifiable information and confidential communications.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies