Sony’s ‘The Interview’ was illegally downloaded over 900,000 times by Christmas Day

The Interview movie
The people wanted The Interview and the people got The Interview, by any stream necessary.

The movie about an interview turned assassination of Kim Jong Un was released online for 48-hour rental and/or purchase on Google Play, YouTube, Xbox Video Store and Sony’s seetheinterview.com on Christmas Eve at 1 p.m. EST. By 4 p.m. the following day, the film had been pirated 904,237 times worldwide, according to piracy tracking firm Excipio. Variety reported that the film was uploaded on file-sharing sites under 24 hours before those piracy numbers were acquired, meaning the film was not pirated for over three hours. That amount of time between legal release and illegal pirating is shocking, given the fact viewers were illegally downloading the film on Sony’s seetheinterview site fairly easily hours after its online release.

In an act of either patriotism or smart marketing, The Interview was only available for purchase on Sony’s seetheinterview.com with a U.S. debit or credit card. That did not stop the United States from being responsible for the highest volume of the film’s piracy, accounting for 28 percent of the illegal activity.

The online release and massive pirating of The Interview did not deter people from wanting to see Kim Jong Un die on the big screen. The movie grossed $1 million in its opening day, even though it was released in “under 10 percent of the amount of theaters originally planned,” according to Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures Entertainment speaking with ABC News. The movie had hundreds of sold-out screenings, with a 12:30 a.m screening at the Cinefamily theater in Los Angeles featuring an in-person introduction from Seth Rogen himself.

Sony had to scramble to find proper distribution for the film after all of the major movie theater chains declined to release the film following terrorist threats from the Guardians of Peace hacker group. The New York Times reported Sony reached out to the White House to help secure Apple as the sole digital distributor of The Interview. The tech company that dropped a Beyoncé album unexpectedly a year ago declined to release the film due to a “speedy time table” according to sources close to the matter.

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