Watch Stars of 'The Interview' Hand Out Swag at L.A. Screening (Exclusive)

Seth Abramovitch

"There was a real chance that this wasn't going to happen, which is really bizarre," Seth Rogen said

One of the strangest odysseys in Hollywood history culminated on Christmas night with a victory lap for Seth Rogen, the jocular star at the center of the Sony hacking controversy.

Joined by his frequent collaborator, Evan Goldberg, and The Interview co-star Randall Park — a scene-stealer as the film's manipulative Kim Jong Un — Rogen thrilled the near-capacity crowd following an 8:30 p.m. screening of his infamous comedy at L.A.'s Downtown Independent theater.

Outside, two LAPD officers stood near a parked squad car, quietly surveying a mostly quiet stretch of Little Tokyo.

The raunchy buddy caper, about a bumbling celebrity journalist (James Franco) and segment producer (Rogen) enlisted by the CIA to assassinate the North Korean leader, played strongly to an eclectic collection of locals who showed up ready to laugh and perhaps demonstrate a little patriotic pride.

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The trio came bearing gifts in the form of The Interview swag — boxes filled with T-shirts and rocket-shaped water bottles, which they tossed into the crowd. After fiddling for a few moments with a microphone, Rogen said a few words over the theater's PA system. 

"There was a real chance that this wasn't going to happen, which is really bizarre," Rogen said chuckling, a reference to Sony Pictures' near-scuttling of the release following a series of devastating cyberattacks on the studio, allegedly at the hands of the North Koreans. "But it did happen, because people like you seem to want it to happen, and we really appreciate that. So honestly, thank you so much. We hope you liked it."

He then handed the microphone over to Park, who thanked those in attendance "for supporting freedom of speech in America," drawing appreciative cheers. Park also got laughs after pointing out that he was one of the "few actual Americans" on the stage. (Rogen and Goldberg grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia.)

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"We would also like to thank independent theaters for supporting our movie, as well as Sony Pictures," Park continued, offering a word of conciliatory support to the embattled studio. "[But] especially you guys. You guys made it happen. Thank you so much, seriously, from the bottom of our hearts."

The stars then high-fived their way up the aisles to chants of "USA! USA!" and slipped out the doors and into an idling Cadillac SUV.

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The Downtown Independent — which typically screens obscure art house fare and also serves as a venue for L.A.'s bustling alternative comedy scene — was one of 331 indie cinemas nationwide to show the film after Sony backtracked on its decision to cancel a planned Dec. 25 release.

The major chains, however — miffed over the studio's decision to release the film one day earlier on VOD platforms like YouTube and Google Play — stood by their previous decision not to show The Interview.