YouTube, Web channels show Sony's 'The Interview' a day before theaters

Wed Dec 24, 2014 5:45pm EST
 
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By Eric Kelsey and Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sony Pictures made "The Interview" available online on Wednesday, a day before its theatrical release, after reversing a decision made a week ago to cancel the movie's release following a massive cyberattack.

The film was available for rental on Google Inc's YouTube site as of early Wednesday afternoon. Microsoft Corp and Sony itself are also showing the comedy, a day before its scheduled premiere at some 320 independent theaters.

"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," Sony Entertainment Chief Executive Michael Lynton said in a statement.

He added that Sony had first reached out to Google, Microsoft "and other partners" on Dec. 17, the day the studio said it was canceling the movie's Christmas Day release.

The movie, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco and is about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, triggered the most destructive cyberattack ever to target a U.S. company, resulting in the release of hundreds of embarrassing emails and confidential data.

U.S. President Barack Obama last week blamed the cyberattacks on North Korea and added to a chorus of criticism by politicians and Hollywood actors, screenwriters and directors accusing Sony of caving to the hackers' demands by censoring itself.

In addition to YouTube Movies, Google Play, Microsoft's Xbox Video, the comedy will be available on a dedicated website, www.seetheinterview.com, to rent for $5.99 or buy for $14.99. No cable or satellite TV operator has yet agreed to make "The Interview" available through video on demand (VOD).

The showing is a chance for Google and Microsoft, which have been bit players in a VOD market dominated by Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc and cable and satellite operators, to raise their profile.   Continued...

 
A man walks by the poster for the film "The Interview" outside the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Littleton, Colorado December 23, 2014.   REUTERS/Rick Wilking