Sony Cancels Theatrical Release of THE INTERVIEW; Mulling VOD Premiere [Updated]

     December 17, 2014


With the top five theater chains in the country now saying they won’t be showing directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s political comedy The Interview during its scheduled opening day of December 25th, Sony Pictures is now trying to figure out what to do with the film.  In case you somehow haven’t been paying attention, theater-owners today opted to pull The Interview from their theaters after an anonymous hacker group threatened to bomb screenings of the film on opening day.  This is all very fresh, as news of the big theaters pulling out broke hours ago, but the immediate response from many was to ask Sony to simply put the movie out on VOD, ensuring that it will still be shown to anyone that wants to see it.  Now word comes that a The Interview VOD release is definitely something the studio is considering.  More after the jump.

[Update: Sony has officially canceled the December 25th theatrical release of The Interview.  Read their full statement after the jump.]


[Update: Here is Sony’s official statement on canceling the theatrical release.  No word on what they’ll do with the film just yet:

In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.

Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.

Our original story regarding the possible VOD release follows below.]

Per Variety, Sony Pictures is weighing releasing The Interview via premium video-on-demand.  It’s still very early and a final decision hasn’t been reached, but apparently the VOD release is one of several options being discussed.

Now it wasn’t Sony that pulled The Interview from theaters; they left the final decision up to the individual theater owners. With nearly half of the theaters across the country now committed to not playing The Interview on Christmas Day, however, Sony is left in the final leg of a major marketing push for a movie that won’t actually be coming out in most places.  Deadline notes that the studio is pulling all of its TV advertising, which makes up a considerable amount of a film’s P&A budget in the days leading up to release, but they still have quite a bit invested in this thing.

In the spirit of free speech, I really think VOD is the way to go.  The hackers’ demands that the movie not be shown will remain un-met, Sony will still be able to give the film a sizeable release, and the threat of violence to those that watch the film is removed.  It could also mark a major shift for the VOD market, which has been rising in recent years and has seen studios toying with different strategies for releasing some of their bigger films.

What do you think, readers?  Would you be willing to pay a premium VOD price to watch The Interview from home?  Sound off in the comments below.


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