The Interview landed in movie theaters across the U.S. on Christmas Day, attracting film fans curious to see the fuss-creating flick, as well as free-speech advocates determined to show they won’t be cowed by hackers’ threats.
Around 300 theaters screened the movie, with many reporting sell-out audiences. At an early-morning screening in LA, The Interview co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg made a surprise appearance, thanking ticket holders for their support.
The movie – a comedy revolving around a CIA attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – was always supposed to get a December 25 release. But a damaging cyberattack at the end of last month, together with the ensuing fallout that included a threat of violence if Sony Pictures went ahead with the movie’s release, led theater chains to pull out of scheduled screenings, which in turn led Sony Pictures to announce it had “no further release plans” for the film.
However, following widespread criticism of its decision, the movie studio backtracked in recent days, announcing it would make the film available online and in select movie theaters across the country.
One firm that helped to make it happen was Google, which put the film on YouTube and Google Play, charging $5.99 to rent and $14.99 to purchase.
“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,” David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, said on Wednesday when announcing the move.
Related: DT’s review of The Interview
Sony Pictures, though badly damaged by the events of the past month, will be hugely relieved to see the film get a release, not least because it’ll enable it to recoup some of the $44 million it spent on making it. And with the amount of publicity it’s received in recent weeks, the movie, which has received lukewarm reviews, may even end up turning a profit.
With the movie currently only available through official channels in the U.S. and Canada, and no current plans for a global release, you won’t be surprised to learn that The Interview has also found its way onto torrent sites. TorrentFreak on Thursday reported downloads in excess of 750,000 within 20 hours of The Interview hitting the sites, with the figure reported to be “growing rapidly.”