It’s not showing in 3, 000 movie theaters but this might be even better: The Interview can now be seen on the Internet, including on YouTube, the world’s largest video website, USA Today said.
Sony Pictures Entertainment confirmed Wednesday that it worked out a deal to make the threatened Seth Rogen/James Franco assassination farce available to anyone with an Internet connection and a credit card.
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The film, as of 10 a.m. PST Wednesday, is now available to rent in HD on Google Play, on YouTube Movies, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and on a dedicated website ($5.99 for each option). The film can also be purchased in HD for $14.99, Sony said.
Somewhere, the unidentified hacker trolls are grinding their teeth: They first stole and leaked gigabytes of data from Sony, including embarrassing emails. Then they tried to shut down the movie about a cockamamie plot to assassinate North Korea dictator Kim Jung Un by threatening Sept. 11-style violence against theaters that showed it, the report said.
After initially caving to the threats, Sony reversed course on Tuesday and agreed to open the film in about 300 hundred independent theaters around the country on Christmas Day
Now, zillions can just rent the film without ever leaving home.
The turn of events is not a surprise: Soon after last week’s decision to shelve the movie, scores of critics urged Sony to release the film online if only to take a stand against the threats from hackers, still unidentified but said by the FBI to be controlled by North Korea, USA Today said.
“It has always been Sony’s intention to have a national platform on which to release this film, ” said Michael Lynton, Sony chairman and CEO, in a statement.
He said the studio reached out to Google, Microsoft and other partners on Dec. 17, after it became clear their initial plan to open it in about 3, 000 theaters was doomed, after major theater chains declined to show it because of the hacker threats, according to the report.
Lynton said the studio never stopped pursuing a way to release The Interview, despite the statement the studio released last week indicating “no further plans” to show it.
“It was essential for our studio to release this movie, especially given the assault upon our business and our employees by those who wanted to stop free speech, ” Lynton said. “We chose the path of digital distribution first so as to reach as many people as possible on opening day, and we continue to seek other partners and platforms to further expand the release.”
President Obama, who was among those who criticized Sony over not releasing the movie, didn’t say whether he planned on watching the film. “I’m glad it’s being released, ” he told reporters in Hawaii, USA Today said.
Kim Song, a North Korean diplomat to the United Nations, condemned the release, calling the movie an “unpardonable mockery of our sovereignty and dignity of our supreme leader.” But Kim said North Korea will likely limit its response to condemnation, with no “physical reaction, ” according to the report.