Sony Pictures released its beleaguered Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy The Interview on several streaming sites Wednesday afternoon, in a move that sidesteps concerns about online threats made against theaters that show the film.
The move marks another turn in the studio’s handling of the film’s release. Sony Pictures scrapped a widespread theatrical release of The Interview earlier this month after several major theater chains backed out in the wake of threats against the movie. Those messages were believed to have come from the same group responsible for a massive cyberattack against Sony, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation has linked to North Korea. (Some cybersecurity experts remain unconvinced of that link.)
Sony’s first backtrack came Tuesday, when small theaters across the country said they would go ahead with plans to screen The Interview on its planned Christmas Day release date. The studio later officially announced it would allow a limited release of the controversial film starting Christmas Day. Only a few hundred theaters are offering the film, as opposed to the thousands that were originally planning to show it. But releasing The Interview online could help Sony reduce losses from such a dramatic cut in the number of theaters showing the movie.
The real winners here, though, could be YouTube and the other streaming services. It’s extremely rare to offer a simultaneous in-theater/streaming release of such a major film. Americans are already going to movie theaters less often, opting for the often cheaper experience of staying in and watching videos online or on demand instead.
But, if you do want to head to the theaters on Christmas Day to watch the movie, Entertainment Weekly has the latest updated list of about 300 theaters where it’s showing starting Thursday: