Following a major controversy, Sony Pictures decided to release its political fiction comedy “The Interview” online as well as in a limited number of cinemas.
Starring James Franco and Seth Rogan, “The Interview” is a political fiction comedy film about a CIA plot to kill North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un through two American journalists.
Mocking the North Korean regime and its contentious leader, the film caused an uproar in North Korea before it was even released. Sony Pictures received threats warning the company not to release the film.
On 23 November, Sony’s computer systems were hacked and personal and business emails exchanged between company executives divulging details about famous cinema stars were leaked online.
North Korea was accused of being behind the cyber hacking attack. Officially denying the accusations, Pyongyang praised the “cyber-attack,” describing it as a “righteous deed.” Hacker group “Guardians of Peace” which the FBI believes to be connected to Pyongyang announced on 16 December that there would be 9/11 attacks on cinemas showing “The Interview.”
The next day, several leading US cinema groups declared that they would not screen the film and Sony pictures cancelled its New York Premiere and Christmas Day release.
Sony’s decision to cancel the release of the film caused a backlash not only in Hollywood but also in the White House as President Obama described the move as a mistake. Following Sony’s decision North Korea suffered from a sudden internet outage with no official explanation.
For several days it seemed as if threats had trumped freedom of expression, but then Sony executives changed their minds and decided to release the film online and through a number of independent cinema groups.
In what is considered to be an unprecedented move, those living in the United States and Canada can watch the online for $6 through Google play, YouTube or Microsoft Xbox Video.
Sony has created a webpage instructing viewers about the methods available to watch the film; the motion picture also appeared on torrents worldwide hours after its release.