Apple Joins Online Release Of Controversial Sony Film

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

Follow on: Google +

Sony, Google, Microsoft and now Apple have released The Interview online, with a few US cinemas participating in a theatrical release over the Christmas weekend

Apple has released Sony Pictures’ The Interview on its iTunes Store platform, following the film’s release on other online platforms and in some US cinemas.

Large US cinema chains had declined to screen the film in time for its originally scheduled Chrismas Eve debut, after hackers threatened attacks on venues that participated in the release.

north korea

Limited release

As a result Sony cancelled the cinematic debut and on Christmas Eve made the film available on a dedicated website, SeeTheInterview.com, for $5.99 (£4), as well as via Google’s YouTube and Play and Microsoft’s Xbox Video.

Apple joined in on Sunday, offering The Interview to buy for $14.99 or to rent for $5.99.

“We’re pleased to offer ‘The Interview’ for rental or purchase on the iTunes Store,” Apple stated. The online releases were initially only available in the US, but Canada was added on Boxing Day.

The film was also released in 331 mostly smaller US cinemas on Christmas Day, according to film industry journal Deadline, which said it had generated gross ticket sales of $2.8m. Some of the chains releasing the film scheduled as little as one screening per day, Deadline said. The film reportedly cost $44m to make, with an additional $30m to $40m spent on marketing.

Political controversy

The Interview, which depicts a fictional plot to assassinate the leader of North Korea, is thought to have spurred a hack on Sony Pictures in November that led to the release of embarrassing internal data, including private emails and film stars’ personal information.

The FBI later said it had traced the attack to the North Korean government, which denied involvement and threatened strikes on the US in retaliation for the accusations.

The group claiming responsibility for the hack, Guardians of Peace, has not said it has any direct affiliation with the North Korean government.

The US promised a reprisal against North Korea, and the country’s access to the Internet was reportedly cut off for about nine hours on 22 December, with US government sources yet to comment about the incident. A second, shorter outage occurred on 23 December, according to Dyn Research, which provides Internet performance data.

Do you know all about IT in the movies? Take our quiz!