Studio clears way for at least 300 independent theatres to screen “The Interview”, despite cyber-attack threats.
Sony, the Japanese-owned company, has released online The Interview, the film that has angered North Korea and prompted a cyberattack on the company.
The comedy was available for rent in the US from 18:00 GMT on several online platforms, a day before a limited release in hundreds of cinemas on Christmas Day.
Featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco, two American comic actors, the film is a comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un.
The film was available for rental on Google Inc’s YouTube site, the Google Play application for Android devices and on a dedicated website, seetheinterview.com. Microsoft Corp and Sony itself are also showing the comedy.
The film’s future had been in doubt after Sony said it was cancelling the release after an embarrassing cyberattack on its corporate network and threats against potential watchers.
The US has blamed the hack attack on North Korea, and President Barack Obama has threatened reprisals.
North Korea denied responsibility for the hack attack and issued its own threats against the US.
Sony also came under fire from Obama and free speech advocates for pulling the film, and the studio quickly performed an about-face.
Some US theatre chains also got cold feet after anonymous online threats.
Almost two hours long, the film depicts how Dave Skylark (Franco), a girl-chasing, party-loving, fashionable tabloid TV presenter, and his bro-romance producer (Rogen) score an exclusive interview with Kim.
That is when the CIA steps in and presents them with a plan to kill Kim before their journey to North Korea.
Many Christmas Day screenings for the film were sold out, including one that begins right after midnight at the 184-seat Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles.