If you haven’t watched Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s ‘The Interview’ yet, either because you’re too cheap to spend $6 to rent it online, or you were worried North Korean hackers would catch you buying it and share your private emails slagging your boss with the world (I’m sorry Mike! When I called you “a giant goober,” I meant that in an affectionate way, like Goobers candy! Which everyone loves!) you are in luck. As part of their quarterly letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that they will “exclusively” offer the comedy to its U.S. and Canadian customers starting this Saturday, January 24. Sorry Netflix Netherlands! You’re out of luck for now.
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Did you rent ‘The Interview’ online over the Christmas weekend? You did? I hope you were not assailed by nefarious hackers! Change all your passwords, just to be safe. Regardless, your purchase or rental of ‘The Interview,’ Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s ultra-controversial poop-joke-laden comedy about the attempted assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (and poop jokes), helped make the film the biggest digital release in the history of Sony Pictures. After many of the country’s major theater chains declined to screen the film in the wake of threats of violence (by those same nefarious hackers), Sony canceled ‘The Interview’’s release outright. But then, early on Christmas Eve, they did an about-face, and made the film available on Google Play, YouTube, and Xbox Live. (It’s since been added to Apple’s iTunes Store as well.)
Following the massive controversy surrounding Sony’s ‘The Interview,’ the film finally made its way to theaters, On Demand, and various streaming services. It’s been a victorious few days for the film following the hacker attack on Sony and threats from a mysterious terrorist group, which have made ‘The Interview’ more than just a comedy—it’s become a symbol for freedom of speech and creativity. Now that we’ve all mostly moved on from the events of the last few weeks, we can just focus on watching and (maybe) enjoying the film. And Seth Rogen and James Franco would like to enjoy it with you today, when they live-tweet ‘The Interview’ later this afternoon.
Just last week it seemed possible that 'The Interview' may never be seen anytime soon as Sony Pictures canceled the theatrical release and claimed they had no immediate plans for a VOD debut. But, following yesterday's news that 'The Interview' will run in select theaters on Christmas Day, comes more details on their plans to simultaneously stream the film online.
Full details are still forthcoming, but it looks like ‘The Interview’—Seth Rogen’s ultra-controversial comedy about an American assassination attempt on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un—will open on Christmas after all. Sony initially cancelled their planned December 25 release after hackers threatened theaters that dared to show ‘The Interview’ with terrorist attacks, and many of the biggest exhibitor chains in the country (including Regal and AMC) subsequently decided not to run the film.
Sony canceling the release of ‘The Interview’ following the hacking of the studio’s private information and terrorist threats against theaters that planned to screen the film isn’t just the biggest movie news story of the year. It may very well be the biggest movie news story of the decade. These events are unprecedented and the “Guardians of Peace” (who United States officials claim are from, or at least work for, North Korea) are enjoying their victory in the most obvious way: Gloating and issuing even more threats.
I know one reaction I’ve had to the (allegedly) North Korean hackers and their attack on Sony and their movie ‘The Interview’ is “Why now?” Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are not the first American filmmakers to make fun of North Korea, or even its real-life leaders. ‘Team America: World Police,’ for example, featured a marionette-version of late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, who wants to destroy Western Civilization (but is also very lonely); the 2012 ‘Red Dawn’ remake actually changed its Asian invaders from Chinese to North Koreans in post-production because at the time that seemed like the more politically and financially safe choice. That’s not going to happen again anytime soon.
It’s kind of a strange thing to write about ‘The Interview’ now, right? Its place in culture will always be defined by the Sony hacks that preceded the movie’s release. Is any other film defined so sharply by events that were out of that movie’s control?
By now it’s quite clear: Sony is not releasing ‘The Interview’ in theaters any time soon. In the wake of the terrorist threats made against theaters that planned to screen the controversial film, and in the subsequent wake of numerous theater chains (including AMC Entertainment, Regal Entertainment, and Cinemark) canceling their planned runs of the movie, Sony decided to cancel the film’s release outright. It will not be a very merry Christmas for Seth Rogen and James Franco.
The Sony hacking scandal has proven to be a massive headache for a company that’s already been having a rough few years. And now, this increasingly weird story has taken an even darker turn: the hackers are threatening to launch terrorist attacks against theaters showing ‘The Interview’ this Christmas. Seriously.