Sony Pictures Entertainment has reached agreements with top U.S. cable, satellite and telco TV providers to distribute “The Interview” via video-on-demand and pay-per-view services, and the studio said more than 250 additional independent theaters will exhibit the movie starting Friday.
The providers that will offer “The Interview” include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox and Bright House Networks (affiliates of InDemand); DirecTV; Verizon FiOS TV; and Charter Communications, Cablevision and AT&T U-verse TV (affiliates of Vubiquity).
Dish Network is the only major U.S. pay-TV provider not currently slated to offer “The Interview.” Reps for the satcaster did not respond to requests for comment. [UPDATE, Jan. 1, 10:40 a.m. PT: Dish announced that starting Friday, Jan. 2, the movie will be available for subscribers to rent for $5.99 on pay-per-view and VOD.]
In addition, the comedy will be available via Vudu, Walmart’s digital VOD service, and via Sony’s PlayStation Network starting Jan. 1.
Netflix is believed to still be in the mix to acquire streaming rights to the controversial film, but it’s likely that Sony is holding back on the subscription VOD window to maximize transactional VOD revenue first. The studio announced that “The Interview” generated $15 million in revenue in its first four days of digital release on Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and through Sony’s dedicated website SeetheInterview.com, powered by startup Kernel. Apple’s iTunes began offering the movie this Sunday.
In any case, Sony is trying to widen availability of “The Interview” as quickly as possible — after scrapping it original plans for wide theatrical release on Dec. 25 — to recoup some of the estimated $75 million it spent producing and marketing the film.
On Friday, Jan. 2, the number of U.S. independent theaters showing the film will increase to over 580, according to Sony. It opened at 331 indie and arthouse theaters on Christmas Day.
Sony pulled “The Interview” from wide release after the cyber-terrorists who took down the studio’s systems and stole internal data threatened violence against moviegoers at theaters that showed the film. Then SPE did an about-face: It cobbled together a limited release sked with independent theaters and launched on Google, YouTube and other digital platforms on Dec. 24. In less than a week, “The Interview” had become the No. 1 bestselling movie on Google Play and YouTube Movies, according to Google.
The FBI continues to maintain that North Korea is behind the attack, initiated Nov. 24, allegedly to retaliate over “The Interview,” which depicts James Franco and Seth Rogen as American TV journalists carrying out the assassination of the communist country’s leader, Kim Jong-un. However, an independent security firm claims it has uncovered evidence that the hack was carried out by a former SPE employee.
Via the pay-TV operators, the film will be made available through VOD and pay-per-view services from $5.99 starting as early as Wednesday, Dec. 31, and rolling out to additional markets over the weekend. Customers of Vudu and Verizon have the option to buy a digital version of the film in addition to the VOD rental.
“We have always sought the widest possible distribution for ‘The Interview,’ and want to thank our new partners for helping us make that happen,” Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment, said in a statement.