Sony Pictures Entertainment had asked the White House for help in arranging for Apple, one of the U.S. government’s technology partners, to stream “The Interview,” a comedy movie that is at the center of a heated dispute between the U.S. and North Korea over cybersecurity issues, a report by The New York Times said Tuesday.

According to the Times report, sources close to the matter told the publication that Sony had approached the White House for help in lining up Apple for a possible streaming of the James Franco and Seth Rogen comedy, which shows two American journalists being tasked by the CIA with assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

However, the Cupertino-based technology giant showed no interest, “at least not on a speedy time table,” the Times reported, without clarifying why Apple declined the request. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on the issue, the report added.

The revelation comes at a time when Sony Pictures has announced a limited Christmas Day theatrical release for “The Interview” in a significant reversal of its earlier decision to cancel the movie’s scheduled release on Dec. 25. The controversial film is expected to be screened in more than 200 theaters on Thursday, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

“We have never given up on releasing ‘The Interview’,” Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said in a statement Tuesday. “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 had reportedly said earlier that Sony Pictures was considering a release of the movie on the Internet. However, company officials have not made further comments on an Internet release or on whether the film will be released through video-on-demand.

On Sunday, Sony lawyer David Boies said that the company still has plans for the film to be distributed. According to him, Sony Pictures only delayed the movie, which is believed to have prompted a massive cyberattack on the company’s systems in November.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama praised Sony Picture’s decision to release “The Interview” on the Christmas Day.

“The president applauds Sony's decision to authorize screenings of the film,” Obama’s spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement. “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.”