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Sony CEO Kaz Hirai.

LAS VEGAS — Sony CEO Kaz Hirai wasted no time addressing the elephant in the room at his company’s CES press conference on Monday afternoon.

Hirai began his talk by discussing “The Interview,” the controversial movie that Sony first originally canceled last month after threats of physical violence from a hacking group that had already caused serious damage to Sony Pictures. The company later changed its mind — President Barack Obama had said Sony made a mistake by caving to threats — and made the movie available to a handful of theaters and perhaps more notably, streamed it online on platforms like YouTube and Xbox.

“Before we get into the actual presentation, I wanted to spend a couple minutes because I think I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Sony Pictures and … a great comedy movie,” Hirai said.

Hirai kept the mood light and started talking about “Annie,” but then put the jokes aside and addressed “The Interview.” He called the hack “one of the most vicious and malicious cyber-attacks that we’ve known certainly in recent history.”

“I’m very proud of all the employees, and certainly the partners that we’ve worked with who stood up against some of the extortionist efforts of the criminals that attacked Sony Pictures and its employees, who worked literally 24 hours a day to bring ‘The Interview’ to audiences here in the U.S. and Canada,” Hirai said.

Hirai also thanked the people who went to one of the 580 theaters to see the film, and to the millions more who streamed the movie online.

“Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of associations — those are very important lifelines of Sony and our entertainment business,” he added.

Sony announced last month that it brought in more than $15 million in online sales from “The Interview,” just four days after debuting it. The flick was downloaded or rented more than two million times in that time span.

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