You Can Now Watch The Interview Online Too
In addition to the limited theatrical release announced yesterday, Sony is now making The Interview available online through a number of digital distributors for less than you’d pay at the movie theater:
LOS ANGELES — Three digital distributors joined an expanding effort to save “The Interview,” as Sony Pictures Entertainment disclosed the first deals to show the film online after a terror threat limited access to theaters.
Among the partners named on Wednesday morning were Google Play, YouTube Movies and Microsoft’s Xbox Video. Sony also said it would show the film on a website of its own.
The film will be available to rent for $5.99, and a high-definition version will be sold for $14.99. The film was scheduled to become available on those services on Wednesday.
A day earlier, Sony had revealed plans to release the comedy, about the assassination of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, on Christmas Day in about 200 theaters owned by small chains or independent operators. Sony said on Wednesday that number had grown to 300 theaters.
In announcing the deal, Michael Lynton, Sony Pictures’ chairman, said conversations with the digital partners began last Wednesday, when it became clear that a planned theatrical release would be scrapped.
“It was essential for our studio to release this movie, especially given the assault upon our business and employees by those who wanted to stop free speech,” Mr. Lynton said in a statement.
The patchwork of unconventional distribution outlets was hastily assembled, as Sony responded to a decision by major theater chains not to show the film, as well as harsh criticism of its own decision to withdraw the film from theaters last week. The initial retreat followed a threat — traced by the F.B.I. to the North Korean government — of 9/11-style violence against theaters that showed the comedy, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco.
North Korean officials began promising retribution for the film in June; the public threat was followed by a Nov. 24 attack on Sony’s computer systems, and then by an explicit threat by anonymous hackers of attacks on theaters.
Sony isn’t going to make nearly as much revenue off the movie using these methods of distribution as they would have with the 2,000 theater premier that was originally planned, of course, but I suppose something is better than nothing. What will be interesting to see is if the hackers try to take these sites down in the coming hours and days. Initial reports are that the hosting sites are slow in responding, but that is likely due to a lot of people trying to access the film at once rather than an attack. Additionally, Google and Microsoft are likely to have far better defenses against hacking than Sony did so an attack on them is a very different animal than what was done to Sony.