Sony Pictures Entertainment has announced it will release the movie “The Interview” for online streaming starting Wednesday.
The movie will be released on YouTube Movies, Google Play, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and at the website www.seetheinterview.com for $5.99 starting at 10 a.m. It is also available for download for $14.99.
This is the the first a major motion picture was available for both online streaming and in theaters at the same time. Most films are released online a few months after their theatrical run as not to cannibalize their box-office draw.
In a blog post, Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said the studio reached out to Google to release the movie online.
“But after discussing all the issues, Sony and Google agreed that we could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech in another country (however silly the content might be),” Drummond wrote.
The move came a day after Sony announced a handful of independent movie theaters will be able to screen the film on Christmas Day, include Digital Gym Cinema in San Diego.
“It has always been Sony’s intention to have a national platform on which to release this film. With that in mind, we reached out to Google, Microsoft and other partners last Wednesday, December 17th, when it became clear our initial release plans were not possible,” Sony’s Chief Executive Michael Lynton said in a statement. “We are pleased we can now join with our partners to offer the film nation-wide (Wednesday).”
Last week Sony said it was canceling the movie’s release after several theater chains pulled the film from their lineup after hackers posted a threatening message. That move was widely criticized by Hollywood as well as President Barack Obama.
“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” Obama said at his year-end press conference.
It was widely believed that Sony was hacked by North Korea because of the film’s content, which is about two journalists, played by Seth Rogan and James Franco, who were recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un.
On Friday, the FBI confirmed the hack came from North Korea but several security experts expressed doubt the hack came from the Communist regime.
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