Sony sends 'The Interview' far and wide

Still haven't seen the movie that a group of hackers tried to stop? Now you have even more ways to watch it.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
3 min read

Sony expands distribution of "The Interview," the movie that spurred hackers to attack the studio's network. Sony Pictures

The release of "The Interview," the Sony Pictures movie that sparked a devastating cyberattack and an international uproar, is now spreading well beyond its initial limited scope.

The studio announced Wednesday that it's expanding the movie's distribution to the In Demand pay-per-view network -- which counts cable providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable among its members -- and to its own PlayStation network.

In Demand is the US's largest pay-per-view network. That means that in addition to Comcast and Time Warner Cable, viewers can stream the movie from AT&T U-verse TV, Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS and Walmart's digital video service VUDU. Customers of Verizon and VUDU have the option to buy a digital version of the film in addition to the video-on-demand rental.

The pay-per-view services will start at $5.99 for the movie. Some services will have "The Interview" available for viewing as soon as Wednesday, and others will roll it out to different markets through the weekend. Sony will make "The Interview" available on the PlayStation starting Thursday.

Sony's 'Interview' heard 'round the world (pictures)

See all photos

For those who want to see the movie in an actual theater, the studio said more independent theaters will show "The Interview" starting Friday, bringing the total number of venues screening the film to more than 580.

"We have always sought the widest possible distribution for 'The Interview,' and want to thank our new partners for helping us make that happen," Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment, said in a statement about Wednesday's expansion.

The movie was at the center of a cyberattack that resulted in the leak of thousands of Sony e-mails and private documents. It's also considered to be the first major Hollywood production that's been made available through digital streaming before hitting theaters, adding to an ongoing discussion of the movie industry's reluctance regarding digital distribution.

"The Interview" stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as a producer and TV personality, respectively, who get the chance to interview Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, and are drawn into an assassination attempt. A group of hackers threatened to release more private information stolen from Sony Pictures if the movie was released, and they also implied that terror attacks could take place at any theaters screening the film. The stolen information included the personal information of celebrities, and emails that revealed the inner workings of Sony and its movie deals.

After the threats, national movie theater chains decided not to screen the movie, and Sony announced that it would not release the film. But public pressure mounted against Sony, with consumers, actors and even President Barack Obama criticizing Sony for buckling to the hackers' pressure.

"We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States," Obama said.

Sony quickly backtracked. Two days before Christmas, the studio said the movie would play at about 200 theaters. Then Sony struck deals to make the movie available for streaming on Christmas Eve through digital channels. It's currently available on Google Play, YouTube, Microsoft's Xbox Video, iTunes and its own SeeTheInterview.com website.

By the end of the first week, online audiences had rented or purchased the film -- which had a $44 million budget -- more than 2 million times, bringing in more than $15 million. In theaters, the film brought in about $2.8 million.