UPDATE: Netflix announced that they will stream The Interview beginning Saturday, January 24th.
One day after planning a limited theatrical release for the controversial Seth Rogen comedy The Interview, Sony Pictures Entertainment has announced plans to stream the movie on YouTube Movies, Google Play, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and the studio’s own dedicated website. The film – which stars Rogen and James Franco as bumbling journalists hired by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – will be available to rent (for $5.99) and purchase in HD (for $14.99) starting on December 24th at 10 a.m. PST, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“It has always been Sony’s intention to have a national platform on which to release this film,” said Michael Lynton, Sony Entertainment chairman and CEO, in a statement. “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. We are pleased we can now join with our partners to offer the film nation-wide today.”
Sony previously canceled the film’s Christmas release date, following cryptic terrorist threats from a group called Guardians for Peace – which also claimed responsibility for a massive cyber attack on Sony (one linked by the FBI to North Korea, though denied by the state itself.)
But the decision to kill The Interview drew widespread criticism from free-speech advocates like George Clooney – and even President Barack Obama, who said, “I think [Sony] made a mistake. We cannot have a society where some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States.” Representative Brad Sherman, a California Democrat and Chairman of the Entertainment Industries Caucus, called on Sony and Lynton to release the film, even suggesting the U.S. Capitol as a venue for a screening. Sony also faced an open-letter petition from a coalition of roughly 250 independent cinemas, urging the studio to release The Interview in honor of free speech.
“The people have spoken!” Rogen tweeted following the Sony reversal. “Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn’t give up! The Interview will be shown at theaters willing to play it on Xmas day!”
“VICTORY!!!!!!!” echoed Franco. “The PEOPLE and THE PRESIDENT have spoken!!!”