Pirates Swarm Over ‘The Interview’ After Sony’s Digital Release (Updated)

The Interview Randall Park

Shortly after Sony Pictures Entertainment released “The Interview” on digital services Dec. 24, high-quality copies of the movie turned up on multiple piracy sites — and in less than 24 hours, it had already been downloaded by about 900,000 torrent users worldwide.

On Wednesday, the studio announced the launch of “The Interview” on Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and its own website, SeetheInterview.com, for $5.99 rental or $14.99 purchase. That came ahead of Sony’s planned U.S. theatrical release of the film to more than 300 independent theaters on Christmas Day.

However, Sony’s digital release of the movie is currently available only in the U.S. As such, it’s unsurprising that “The Interview” was quickly pirated, particularly given worldwide interest in the movie after the devastating hack on SPE and allegations by U.S. government that North Korea was responsible for the attack.

Poached copies of “The Interview” had been downloaded by 904,237 clients worldwide as of about 4 p.m. ET Thursday after being uploaded less than 24 hours earlier to file-sharing services, according to piracy-tracking firm Excipio. Of those, 28% were in the U.S. — representing the country with the largest base of pirates — where the film is legally available through digital services.

See More: Sony Will Stream ‘The Interview’ through YouTube, Google, Xbox, Sony Site

[UPDATE, Dec. 26, 9 a.m. PT: Legitimate copies of the movie had been downloaded at least 1.7 million times as of approximately 6 a.m. ET Friday, according to Excipio. That, by the way, included four clients based in North Korea, the firm found.]

The surge in piracy for “The Interview” comes even after the Pirate Bay, the world’s best-known piracy outfit, was shut down in Sweden by law-enforcement officials in a raid confiscating its servers and equipment Dec. 9.

The cyber-terrorists who attacked Sony stole copies of DVD screeners of four unreleased movies — including the studio’s “Annie” holiday release — and uploaded them to pirate sites, along with “Fury,” the war pic starring Brad Pitt. But until this week, legitimate copies of “The Interview” had not surfaced on pirate sites.

“The Interview,” starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, is a geopolitical satire centering on two American TV journalists enlisted by the CIA to kill North Korea’s leader. Major U.S. theater chains dropped plans to show the film after hackers threatened terrorist attacks, leading Sony to previously pull all distribution. Then, earlier this week, Sony reversed course with the digital-video partnerships and a limited theatrical run.

See More: Netflix in Talks to Stream ‘The Interview’ (EXCLUSIVE)

For Sony’s legal digital distribution of “The Interview,” no figures are available for rentals and purchases of the movie at this point. However, the film is listed as the No. 1 title in the Google Play store and YouTube’s movies section as of Thursday.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 19

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Streisand Effect has never been so amazing,,,

  2. Matthew says:

    “The Interview” must be made available to all Americans, and if Sony truly cares about freedom, it is vitally important that they put profit aside and do their part to serve the greater good. A movie of this historical importance needs to be seen by the entire population, and I applaud those who are working to see that goal realized.

  3. If I didn’t know any better that the so-called pirates got a copy from Sony Picture video department. I know that I am wrong but I can’t help it.

  4. justin says:

    was worth the torrent for sure

  5. John Shea says:

    And just WHERE were all these pirates when we really needed them last week?

  6. So much for the foreboding FBI warning.

  7. I am shock that the pirates are giving the movie away free. I will wait until Sony Picture release the DVD and either rent or buy the DVD.

  8. kanyeisgay says:

    Its not too funny and the ending was weak, makes me think the us gov is who hacked sony to have a reason to mess with north korea, comedy propoganda, ride along was way funnier.

  9. I am not surprised that pirates was swarm over the Interview and will make their share of the profit. I will wait until Sony Pictures release the the film on DVD and buy it.

    • kreiyu says:

      how do pirates profit when they release it for free?

      • Andrea says:

        hi kreiyu,

        how they benefit?
        They benefit in that way, that the do not have to wait for years until this film will come into their local movie-theaters. And it is even not sure, if this will ever happen! That’s the point! The rest of the world has been locked out from this film-debut and that is not fair.

        Also german newspapsers have informed about the kind of stolen data at the Sony-Hack and these date make clear, that this can never ever have been Northcorea but someone else. The date stolen at Sony, were these ones:

        1. private date of acters and acresses (home-adress, emailaddresses, etc)
        2. wages and other boni of Sony-workers and their social security numbers
        3. then more than 70.000 private Emails of acters and actresses
        4. then Sony has provoked a big internal dispute with one of its best regisseurs!
        5. then more thatn five new productions by Sony
        6. a new film-book for a new James-Bond film

        And the biggest point in this data-leak was a fow-takeover-try of Sony by Lions Gate Entertainment, which Sony refused to!!

        So these data make clear: this date-theft was not Nothcorea but someone else!!

        And this shows, that something on these terroristic threats which have been told in the news cannot be true! And why does the us-administration not tell or negate that the us-administration has kicked Northcorea out of the internet?? Why do they sy in this point??

        All this together shows: someone has made big pressure on Sony and the cinema-thaters, to censor this film from us and gave wrong reasons for this: these terroristic threats which have been told on the news and where I doubt, that this is true!! I think, this was planned as a new way of international Cinema-censorship and that we see a new war inside of content-industry where lots of money, economical power and political power plays a big role!!

  10. Denis Sasse says:

    They could’ve made some more money with a worldwide vod release. but by only releasing it in the us and canada, they provoked all the piracy in the rest of the world. that’s bad. if you’re going to release a movie as vod, you HAVE TO release it worldwide.

  11. Adam says:

    Your wrong about it only being available in the US. I’m in Canada and I was able to rent it off you tube. The movie itself was hilarious. Definitely The best Rogen/Franco pairing.

  12. Joyce Conner says:

    It was going to happen. But what I hope happens is that Sony makes an unsurprisingly amazing money by releasing this movie outside big theaters and this is how movies are distributed come 2015 or 2016.

  13. This was always going to happen. The focus should be on how those digital sales will look like at launch. Bearing in mind it’s Christmas Day and the publicity surrounding this. movie

    At least i there are multiple opportunities to view this legitimately globally, and not just on sony’s site – Really are you going to trust them with your credit card details!?!?!

    IMHO it’s actually a funny movie. Rogen and Franco, but they done some really great work here and I hope people do view this via legitimate means. The price point is reasonable enough ( you’re saving money on travel and popcorn!) and it could change the ways films are distributed in the future.

    Watch it over the holidays, . #hateuscausetheyaintus

  14. Tom D says:

    I enjoyed it..bought it twice. one for myself another as a gift.

  15. Don’t touch it. It is a virus.

  16. Jason says:

    I can see that you’ve just lost your sense of taste. Good for you.

More Digital News from Variety