Sony Pictures Entertainment released “The Interview” online on Wednesday morning, making it available for purchase on YouTube, Google Play, Microsoft Inc.'s Xbox Video and the Sony-created website seetheinterview.com.
The movie can be rented in standard definition for $5.99 and in high definition for $14.99.
The move further expands distribution of the comedy that triggered a cyberattack of epic proportions, which has since been attributed to North Korea. Sony had already reversed its decision to cancel the movie's release amid criticism that it was self-censorship.
“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,” Sony Entertainment Chief Executive Michael Lynton said in a statement. “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.”
“The Interview” will now be released both in theaters and on video-on-demand simultaneously, a move which sets a major precedent for a Hollywood studio. Typically, the country’s major theater circuits guard their right to exclusively debut movies by refusing to play films that are also debuting on VOD. However, since all of the major theater chains in the U.S. have refused to show the film, following threats of September 11-style attacks from Sony’s hackers, the studio has more freedom.
The VOD experiment will likely be a success for Sony. A survey conducted earlier this week by the market research firm C4 showed that interest in a VOD release of “The Interview” had soared since the major theater chains dropped out, and that seven out of 10 moviegoers would be interested in renting the film online.
According to Variety, Sony Pictures is also in talks with Netflix to stream “The Interview” to subscribers a few days after its theatrical release.
Currently, “The Interview” is scheduled to play at 300 independent movie theaters across the country on Christmas Day.
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