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Arts & Culture

‘The Interview’ Released On Demand Today, As People Say No To Hackers

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
The Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes in San Antonio

  On Tuesday, shortly after the Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO, Tim League, tweeted: “Breaking news: Sony has authorized screenings of THE INTERVIEW on Christmas Day. We are making shows available within the hour. #Victory,” there was a celebratory tweet from the film’s star and co-director, Seth Rogen. “The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn't give up! The Interview will be shown at theaters willing to play it on Xmas day!”

Not long after that, ticket demand for The Interview was so high it caused the Alamo Drafthouse’s website to go offline for brief periods of time on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, following a series of events in this real-time soap opera, Sony Pictures released a statement, which announced that the movie would also be available on demand from 10 a.m Pacific time. “We never stopped pursuing as wide a release as possible for ‘The Interview,’ said the statement from CEO Michael Wheaton.

“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.” A spokesperson for Sony had told NPR  on Tuesday, that more than 200 theaters would screen the film, beginning Christmas day.

Alamo Drafthouse spokesperson, Kristen Wheaton agreed that the decision to screen the film came down to the question of freedom of expression, and human rights. “Independent and art house theaters have a long and storied history in supporting these values and championing work that is often suppressed. So on these grounds we felt it was very important to take a stand,” said Wheaton.

Earlier this month, Sony Pictures had opted not to release the controversial film, starring Rogen and James Franco, and focused on a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. It faced an unprecedented crisis after its servers were hacked, several emails and other information leaked, and 9/11 style threats made against the company and theaters planning to show the comedy, allegedly by the group behind the hack, the ironically-named Guardians of Peace.

The Sony statement also thanked Google and Microsoft for “helping make this a reality.” Sony said the picture would be available on demand on a special website in HD on YouTube Movies, Microsoft’s Xbox video service and on Google Play. It can be rented for $5.99, or bought for $14.99.

This release represents our commitment to our filmmakers and 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.

The Obama Administration blames North Korea for the hacking, with President Obama telling CNN’s State of The Union on Sunday that this was “cybervandalism” but not an act of war. “If we set a precedent in which a dictator in another country can disrupt through cyber, a company's distribution chain or its products, and as a consequence we start censoring ourselves, that's a problem,” the President said

Americans clearly disagreed with the hackers’ methods. Outside of the Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes, moviegoer Christian Contreras said the controversy made him more eager to see the movie. “It’s kind of like one of those little forbidden things, like, just go watch it just because people are telling you ‘don’t watch it because of the terrorists acts.’ But with me being in the military, I don’t fear it. It’s just a computer hacker, what’s the worst that could happen?”

All three Alamo Drafthouse theaters in San Antonio will show the film. But tickets are expected to sell out for Christmas Day.