LOS ANGELES — “The Interview” will be available for rental on a variety of digital platforms including Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and a separate Sony website beginning Wednesday.
The movie, set to be released on demand at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, will cost $5.99 to stream. It also will open in about 200 theaters on Thursday.
The studio announced the news just one day after reversing a previous decision not to show the film at all after hackers threatened moviegoers with violence. The decision not to release the film was widely criticized, with President Barack Obama one of Sony’s harshest critics.
“It has always been Sony’s intention to have a national platform on which to release this film,” said Sony Pictures chair and CEO Michael Lynton in a statement Wednesday. “Negotiations with digital providers began last Wednesday, and, as of this morning the film will be available in around 300 independently owned theaters starting Thursday.
“We never stopped pursuing as wide a release as possible for “The Interview.” It was essential for our studio to release this movie, especially given the assault upon our business and our employees by those who wanted to stop free speech. We chose the path of digital distribution first so as to reach as many people as possible on opening day, and we continue to seek other partners and platforms to further expand the release.”
The unusual release marks one of the first times a studio movie will be shown simultaneously in theaters and video on demand. Usually, larger studio films aren’t made available on digital platforms for at least a few months after the initial theatrical release, to ensure maximizing theater box office.
Google showed its support with a post on its official blog, saying the company “could not sit on the sidelines.”
“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). “
Lynton said the release represented the company’s commitment to free speech.
“While we couldn’t have predicted the road this movie traveled to get to this moment, I’m proud our fight was not for nothing and that cyber criminals were not able to silence us,” he said.