June 25, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Sony begins streaming “The Interview” before Christmas

Sony announced a change of plans today, saying it would not wait until Christmas day to release “The Interview” but, instead, would begin streaming it online this morning.

It said the film, which prompted a massive cyberattack on Sony that the FBI blamed on North Korea, would be available starting at 10 a.m. Pacific time via Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and a Sony site called seetheinterview.com.

After initially balking at a planned Christmas Day release in the face of threats of violence by computer hackers who crippled the Culver City-based studio in late November, the studio announced Tuesday a limited theatrical release Thursday, as well as a video-on-demand availability.

Watching the movie on YouTube and other streaming sites will cost $5.99. Buying the film, in HD format, will cost $14.99.

Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Lynton released a statement this morning.

“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. We are pleased we can now join with our partners to offer the film nation-wide today.”

The movie, said to cost about $80 million to make and market, is a goofball comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco about plot to assassinate North Korea’s dictator. The FBI has blamed the North Korean government for the hacking by a shadowy group calling itself Guardians of Peace.

The cyberattack reportedly exposed thousands of employees to identity theft, embarrassed executives and celebrities with the release of off-color emails, and crippled the studio’s digital infrastructure.

“We have never given up on releasing ‘The Interview’ and we’re excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day,”  Sony Entertainment Chairman/CEO Michael Lynton said Tuesday. “At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.”

A week ago, Sony announced it was canceling the release, saying big exhibitors were backing out of agreements to show the movie. In response, President Barack Obama said he thought that was a mistake.

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” he said.     How the North Koreas will react was anyone’s guess. After Sony initially announced the film would not be released on Christmas, “Guardians of Peace”  sent an email to top Sony executives threatening that it would release more private data stolen in the cyberattack if “The Interview” is ever leaked or released in any way.

“We will ensure the security of your data unless you make additional trouble,” the email read, according to CNN. “Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy.”

Among L.A-area theaters, Laemmle Theatres stated on Twitter that it had “other film commitments” on Christmas, but the film is expected to open on Dec. 31 in North Hollywood.

Vintage Cinemas has scheduled four showings — 1:30, 4:15, 7 and 9:50 p.m. — on Thursday at its Los Feliz theater, 1822 N. Vermont Ave. According to its website, Regency Theatres plans to show the film at its cinemas in Azusa, Agoura Hills, Granada Hills, Commerce, Van Nuys, Westminster, Perris and Riverside.

The nonprofit group Cinefamily quickly posted on Twitter that it would like to show the film at The Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles.

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