The off-again, on-again saga around The Interview continues: Google and Microsoft have agreed to make the movie available online. The film becomes available on 12/24, starting at 10am PT on YouTube, Google Play as well as through Xbox Live and via Sony’s own website. Consumers will be able to rent the movie for $5.99, or buy a digital copy for $14.99.
Sony confirmed the release of the movie Wednesday, following a report from CNN that first mentioned ongoing negotiations between Sony and YouTube. The studio apparently plans to make the release available on Seetheinterview.com, which is inaccessible at the time of writing.
Sony had canceled all release plans for The Interview last week after major theater chains pulled out of the release following threats of violence and the devastating hack attack on Sony’s servers. At the time, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said that there were no plans to release it online. This week, the film’s fate changed completely: The film will now debut in around 300 independent theaters on Christmas Day.
The online release apparently came together after Sony reached out to a variety of online platforms last Wednesday. Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond published the following statement about it on the company’s blog:
“Last Wednesday Sony began contacting a number of companies, including Google, to ask if we’d be able to make their movie, “The Interview,” available online. We’d had a similar thought and were eager to help—though given everything that’s happened, the security implications were very much at the front of our minds.
Of course it was tempting to hope that something else would happen to ensure this movie saw the light of day. But after discussing all the issues, 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 (however silly the content might be). “
Re/code’s Peter Kafka reported Wednesday that negotiations between Sony and Apple to add The Interview to iTunes on the same day apparently fell through. However, it’s still possible that Apple will get the movie later, or that other online distributors will get a piece of the action as well. And Variety added that Sony is talking to Netflix about carrying the movie as well.
Getting The Interview on the day it is released in theaters would be a major coup for Google; these kinds of same-day releases are called “day and date” releases in the industry, and have been very controversial in the past. Major theater chains have long resisted this idea, arguing that a simultaneous online release would harm their box office sales. But with the major chains out of the picture for The Interview, Sony may be free to pursue the online route — and it could possibly look for clues on how other movies might fare in the future.
This has been updated throughout with further information on the release.