Update: It’s official — Sony will release The Interview online at 1PM ET today through YouTube, Xbox Video, and others. It’ll be $5.99 to rent and $14.99 to own.
Not only will The Interview be available in select theaters this Christmas, it’ll also be available for everyone online. First reported by CNN’s Brian Stelter and now corroborated by multiple outlets, YouTube has “tentatively agreed” to make it available as a rental. Sony is additionally in talks with other streaming outlets, so it wouldn’t be exclusive (according to Recode, that list includes Google Play store and Sony’s own website).
On Tuesday, the Alamo Drafthouse revealed that Sony Pictures would now allow the film to be played in select theaters. As the day progressed, the number of theaters playingThe Interview grew into the hundreds. Notably, however, no major US theater has joined the list.
Last Friday, President Barack Obama told the world that he thought it was a “mistake” for Sony to cancel the release of The Interview. Later that same day, the movie studio’s CEO, Michael Lynton, defended the company’s decision, saying it had no choice but to cancel the film’s Christmas release date after all major US theater chains refused to screen the film. He also reiterated in a televised interview that “we have always had every desire to have the American public to see this movie.”
“WE HAVE ALWAYS HAD EVERY DESIRE TO HAVE THE AMERICAN PUBLIC TO SEE THIS MOVIE.”
The question, until today, was how Sony would get the movie in front of the public’s eyes. In that very same CNN interview on Friday, Lynton said that “there has not been one major VOD distributor [or] one major e-commerce site that has stepped forward and said they’re willing to distribute this movie for us.” He added, “we don’t have that direct interface with the American public so we need to go through an intermediate.” That statement suggested that Lynton had entirely overlooked Sony’s very own Crackle streaming video service, which is home to a number of Sony Pictures films.
The FBI has linked North Korea to the massive cyberattack that’s crippled Sony Pictures since November 24th. The hacking group, which calls themselves the Guardians of Peace, has released massive amounts of internal Sony data and demanded that the company halt the release of The Interview. During Friday’s press conference, Obama said the US “will respond” to the North Korean attack on Sony but didn’t clarify beyond saying it would be “proportional.”
Following threats of physical violence, all major theaters dropped the movie and Sony later canceled the premiere altogether. According to CNN, the hacking group last emailed Sony on Friday, threatening to release more data unless it (somehow) removes all signs that The Interview ever existed. The film’s official Facebook and Twitter pages, along with the clips from Sony Pictures’ YouTube channel, did in fact disappear for a few days. Everything returned on Tuesday, however, when independent theaters started announcing Christmas Day showtimes.