LOS ANGELES – Sony Pictures’ comedy “The Interview” began streaming online Wednesday.
The company struck deals to make the movie available on Google Play, YouTube Movies and Microsoft’s Xbox Video for rent and purchase. The movie will also be available through a standalone site, www.seetheinterview.com, Rentals cost $5.99, while customers can pay $14.99 to buy the movie.
The movie became available on these platforms at 1 p.m., the company said.
This comes a day after the company authorized a limited theatrical release of “The Interview” through more than 200 independent cinemas on Christmas Day, including the Dipson Theatre in Lancaster. Sony had previously canceled its plans for a Christmas theatrical debut after major theater chains opted out of showing it, following threats of violence from hackers.
Sony Pictures Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Lynton said the company initially contacted Google, Microsoft and others on Dec. 17, the day it canceled its plans for a wide release of “The Interview” on Christmas Day.
“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,” Lynton said in a statement.
“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,” Lynton continued.
Sony has been trying to find ways to release the movie as the studio continues to deal with the reverberations of a massive cyberattack that became public a month ago. Hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace hijacked Sony Pictures’ computer systems and stole troves of sensitive data that were released to the Web.
U.S. officials have blamed the North Korean government for the attack. North Korea has denied involvement, but has praised the hack and denounced “The Interview,” which depicts a fictional assassination attempt on that country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer, said Google had been interested in helping Sony release the film, but security was a concern.
“Of course it was tempting to hope that something else would happen to ensure this movie saw the light of day,” Drummond wrote in a blog post. “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).”