Perhaps the question never was if Americans would get to see Seth Rogan’s The Interview, but rather how and when they would see it.
That question has finally been answered.
Starting today – Christmas Eve – viewers are able to rent or buy the comedy on Google Play and YouTube Movies. The film is also available to Xbox Video customers and via Seetheinterview.com. In a statement, Sony says it chose digital distribution first so the movie, which was slated for a Christmas Day theatrical release, can reach as many people as possible on opening day. It costs $5.99 to rent and $14.99 to buy.
“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),” wrote David Drummond, SVP corporate development and chief legal officer at Google, in a blog post Wednesday.
A devastating breach of cyber security last month put valuable information, documents and IP in the hands of hackers, who tried to prevent the release of the film. Fearing backlash from the perpetrators, Sony initially said it would delay a theatrical release, much to the chagrin of many Americans, including President Barack Obama.
Sony now says The Interview will see a limited screening (about 200 theaters in the U.S.) on Christmas Day as planned, in addition to the VOD release. In the movie, 2 Americans (played by Rogan and James Franco) are sent to assassinate North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. The U.S. has accused the regime of being behind the hack.
The hack, which Obama has called an act of “cyber vandalism,” has raised important issues that go beyond the entertainment world: for instance, how to deal with an information breach through diplomatic means when the demands are political in nature, and to what extent free speech in America is co-dependent on business interests.