News World Sony snubs hackers’ demands with online film release

Sony snubs hackers’ demands with online film release

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Sony Pictures says The Interview will be available for rent on a variety of digital platforms including Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and a separate Sony website.

The movie, which lampoons North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, is set to be released on demand in the US on Wednesday morning and will cost $US5.99 ($A6.48) to stream. It also will open in about 200 theatres on Thursday.

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The studio announced the news just one day after reversing a previous decision not to show the film at all after hackers threatened moviegoers with violence. The decision not to release the film was widely criticised, with President Barack Obama one of Sony’s harshest critics.

“It has always been Sony’s intention to have a national platform on which to release this film,” said Sony Pictures chair and CEO Michael Lynton in a statement on Wednesday.

“Negotiations with digital providers began last Wednesday, and, as of this morning the film will be available in around 300 independently owned theatres starting on Thursday.

“We never stopped pursuing as wide a release as possible for The Interview.

The unusual release marks one of the first times a studio movie will be shown simultaneously in theatres and video on demand.

“This release represents our commitment to our filmmakers and free speech,” said Lynton.

“While we couldn’t have predicted the road this movie travelled to get to this moment, I’m proud our fight was not for nothing and that cyber criminals were not able to silence us.”

After hackers, who the FBI says are linked to North Korea, last Wednesday threatened violence against theatres showing the film, the nation’s largest theatre chains dropped The Interview.

Sony soon afterwards cancelled the film’s release altogether and removed mention of it from its websites.

But that decision drew widespread criticism, including from Obama, who chastised Sony for what he deemed “a mistake” that went against American principles of free speech.

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