Sony Pictures has apparently figured out what to do with its highly controversial comedy The Interview, which will be available for purchase online today on Google Play, YouTube, and Xbox Live, the companies just announced.
Consumers can either rent ($6) or buy the movie for $15 as of 10 a.m. PT today. Additionally, people will be able to purchase the movie through online payments service Stripe via a new website (Seetheinterview.com) for the film.
Interestingly, Sony hasn’t made an announcement about selling The Interview on its PlayStation Network or streaming video service Crackle. Both of those services are viewed as underdogs in the digital video market, and Sony apparently isn’t confident enough to distribute its movie through its own platform. One potential explanation is that Sony is worried the PlayStation Network might be hacked as a result of making The Interview available, as the company doesn’t exactly have a great track record of security. [Update: Sony has responded to VentureBeat with a statement about making The Interview available on PSN, which you can read here.]
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’re undoubtedly sick of hearing about the film, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists tasked by the U.S. government to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. North Korea wasn’t too fond of this plan and, according to the FBI, managed to orchestrate a cybersecurity attack on the film’s producer Sony. That in turn led to lots of sensitive Sony documents getting leaked to the public, several U.S. theaters initially refusing to show the movie, and the company’s decision to temporarily cease plans to release it at all. But after a presidential pep talk and lots of online support, the company reversed that decision.
In addition to making the movie available today online, Sony is also releasing The Interview in a select number of theaters across the country.
Without speculating on how much of this situation might have been engineered for free publicity, it was really smart of Sony to tap multiple distributors online to sell this movie — especially since right now is probably when the public’s interest is at its peak. Personally, I’m curious to see how the movie fares financially, as not many films with a multimillion dollar budget (if any at all) have seen an online release so close to its theatrical release.
If The Interview proves financially successful for Sony, I’d imagine we’ll see more online releases of controversial films going forward — and without having to combat threats from foreign leaders, too.
Although Rogen is still hoping people will make it out to the theater.
I need to say that a comedy is best viewed in a theater full of people, so if you can, I'd watch it like that. Or call some friends over.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) December 24, 2014