Netflix in Talks to Stream ‘The Interview’ as Starz Releases Pay TV Rights (EXCLUSIVE)

YouTube, Google Play and Xbox will also offer the Sony comedy

Netflix is in talks with Sony Pictures to make “The Interview” available for streaming by its subscribers. If a deal comes together, the movie would not be available day and date with its Christmas Day release in theaters but would likely stream on the netcaster within a few days.

Netflix declined comment. It’s understood that Sony execs screened the movie for Netflix execs in recent days.

Sony has just announced a group of online distribs that will make the movie available for rental today starting at 10 a.m. PT: Google Play, YouTube Movies, Xbox Video and the website SeetheInterview.com for $5.99, or $14.99 for an HD version.

A Netflix deal would also give the movie a broad platform to be seen by the netcaster’s 53 million global subscribers. But the prospect of a Netflix airing also raised questions about how that would impact the movie’s traditional pay TV exhibition window, as Sony Pictures has an output deal with Starz.

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Starz said it made an effort to work with Sony regarding the “Interview” window because of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the cyber attack that has hobbled Sony Pictures release plan for the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy.

“As the situation with ‘The Interview’ is new territory and has been constantly evolving, Starz released the film from its output deal in order to allow Sony maximum flexibility with their distribution strategy,” a Starz spokeswoman said.

Sony is not believed to be in talks with any other SVOD service — meaning no Hulu or Amazon — for the movie.

“The Interview” has become a cause célèbre among free speech advocates after a threat from hackers linked to North Korea spurred major theater chains to back out of showing it and Sony to scrap its Dec. 25 theatrical release.

But on Monday and Tuesday, a number of indie theaters came forward with offers to screen the movie, allowing Sony to save some face and proceed with the Dec. 25 bow, albeit in about 300 theaters rather than the nearly 3,000 that had been set for the wide release, before the unprecedented cyber-attack masterminded by North Korea sent the studio and the movie’s prospects into a tailspin.

Although Sony last week denied any plans for a VOD or streaming release, the studio clearly was reaching out to potential digital partners. Sources said the outreach to Netflix and others came before word surfaced about the indie theater push.

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