Sony Weighing Premium VOD Release for ‘The Interview’ (EXCLUSIVE)

The Interview Hacking

With most major U.S. theater chains opting to drop or delay “The Interview,” Sony Pictures Entertainment is weighing releasing the film on premium video-on-demand, according to an insider.

That would allow the studio to recoup some of the film’s $42 million budget and tens of millions in promotion and advertising expenditures. It would also enable the studio to experiment with the potential of VOD, something it has been hesitant to do at the risk of angering major exhibitors. Traditionally, films must wait 90 days before they are released on home entertainment platforms.

In the case of “The Interview,” the decision may have been made by the exhibitors themselves. The majority of the country’s ten largest circuits — a group that include AMC, Regal, Cinemark and Carmike — will not show the film when it debuts on Dec. 25th.

Sony still plans to make the film available to theaters on Christmas day should they choose to exhibit it, the insider said. Talks of a possible premium VOD release are preliminary. No plan is in place yet nor has a decision about possible pricing been made. It is one of several options being debated.

Sony has been reeling for weeks since hackers broke into the studio’s computer system and stole internal documents, email messages, film budgets, spreadsheets detailing top executive salaries and the social security numbers of thousands of employees. The documents and records were subsequently leaked online, setting off a firestorm of media coverage.

Tuesday’s message accompanied another data dump. It threatened violence on theaters that showed “The Interview” and people who attend screenings.

“The world will be full of fear,” the message reads. “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”

“The Interview,” starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, is a comedy about an assassination attempt on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. There has been speculation that the country may be involved in the hacking as retaliation for the film, though it has denied involvement.

Theater owners are primarily concerned with being held legally responsible if any violent attack were to take place or if the message inspired a copycat assault. There are also worries that a possible attack might depress the overall box office during the Christmas holidays – historically one of the busiest times of the year for moviegoing.

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  1. lakawak says:

    Was there ever a more hollow threat than that “Remember the 11th of September” one that they issues? North Korea does not have the outside support that the other terrorist nations have. Their own people hate their government. Nothing was going to happen.

  2. George says:

    As we all know, AMC is owned by a Chinese company, so I am not surprised by their decision not to screen the movie…

    • Aaron Zornes says:

      Thanks for the tip on AMC .. we had *no* clue it is a Chinese conglomerate owned by one of the richest Chinese men in the world!


      AMC Theatres (often referred to as just AMC and previously known as AMC Cinemas) is an American movie theater chain owned and operated by AMC Entertainment, Inc., a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group. Founded in 1920, AMC has the second-largest share of the American market, behind Regal Entertainment Group (with whom they co-own Open Road Films) and ahead of Cinemark Theatres. The chain has 346 locations mostly in North America,[3] along with 86 more locations in mainland China, home of its corporate parent.[4][5][6][7] The company’s headquarters is in Leawood, Kansas.

      The company was founded in Dalian in 1988 as a residential real estate company by Wang Jianlin (now one of the richest people in China).[2] Since 2005, it has diversified into areas including hotels, cinemas, karaoke centres, and department stores.[1] In 2009, Dalian Wanda moved its headquarters to the Wanda Plaza in Beijing CBD.

      Dalian Wanda acquired the United States-based cinema operator AMC Theatres[1] in May 2012 for about USD $2.6 billion.[3] The company website said that its existing Wanda Cinema Line was “Asia’s largest” cinema operator and following the merger it claims to be the world’s largest cinema operator.[4] The acquisition went through successfully in September 2012.

      In June 2013, Dalian Wanda acquired the British yacht builder Sunseeker International for USD $500 million. This acquisition will give them a 92% stake in the company.[5]

      As of June 16, 2014, Dalian Wanda owned 88 Wanda Plazas, 55 five-star hotels, 1,247 cinema screens, 78 department stores, and 84 karaoke centres throughout China.[6]

      In 2013, the company’s assets totaled 380 billion yuan ($62.8 billion), its annual income reached 186.6 billion yuan ($30.8 billion) and net profits exceeded 12.5 billion yuan ($2.06 billion).

      In June 2013, Dalian Wanda planned to invest USD $1.1 billion to develop a five star hotel in London. The new hotel will be built by the Thames river[1] in Vauxhall, South London as part of the Nine Elms regeneration. The move was welcomed by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.[5]

      In June 2013, the company purchased Sunseeker International Ltd., a U.K.-based maker of yachts used in the James Bond movies, for $500 million.[1]

  3. Regina says:

    I would like to see Sony still release THE INTERVIEW on VOD, DVD and any other outlet that will allow Americans to exercise our right to laugh hysterically at a cry baby dictator who is nothing more than a toddler on tantrum. We were looking forward to seeing this movie. ..and hope Sony will give us the gift of laughter.

  4. tammy says:

    Please release the movie

  5. Release it on dvd…only available at the cinema.. 9.99 a copy

  6. jdobypr says:

    I am disappointed American theaters are shy about showing this film…The concept is hilarious and not strangely, sounds like something the comedians in our CIA might just try to pull off …

  7. bokiluis says:

    I have had a strange fascination with Pyongyang and was so looking forward to seeing this on Christmas Day. But a VOD release is almost better since I can hit replay at will. It is Som Il Jong to play such games.

  8. Frank says:

    This is America…Freedom of Speech prevails…
    F the hackers and their threats !
    Show the movie and move on already….
    I hope SONY realizes that not opening only encourages this BS…

    • lakawak says:

      I don’t care about this movie anyway since I wish someone would kill Franco and Seth Rogen who think they are far funnier than they are…but let’s be honest…our country would not be happy if some country made a comedy movie about killing Obama

      • Code says:

        We’ve had two movies about an attack on Obama already… Olympus has Fallen and White House Down.

        I still would of watched them even if they did kill the president in the movie.

    • Bill B. says:

      It’s not Sony. They say they will still allow any exhibitor to show it if they want. It’s the theater owners who are caving in. Can’t say I blame them, but this is setting a very bad precedent.

  9. avesely577nh says:

    Oh hell, put it out on VOD. I’ll watch it. They cannot attack every home in the US. If a lot of citizens who believe in free speech do this, we well may exceed the amount they would have gotten in the theaters. There is a way to get back those hackers and the more money it makes whether it is VOD or another option, let’s do it. DAMN BE THE HACKERS!

    • Aaron Zornes says:

      “Day and Date it with VOD” .,.. exactly … time to use *our* technology to *our* advantage and protect freedom of speech along the way

      The faster the better so that we show our mettle, independence and democratic cowboy “can do” culture vs. Stalinist micromanaged decrepit economic slag piles like North Korea

      VOD *plus* Bit Torrent will let the *whole world* in on this *arguably* great piece of cinema that is being blackballed by North Korea

      JUST DO IT !!!!

      Roll ’em!!!

  10. Dave Adams says:

    Why are we so scared of this little cheese loving Imp and or Rube

  11. Chris says:

    Give the damn thing away. Immediately. It’s the only good option.

  12. A lot to do over a stupid movie.

  13. “tens of millions in promotion and advertising expenditures”??? ya can’t BUY the kind of FREE publicity this flic has gotten!

  14. pizzmoe says:

    I’m not convinced this is being done by North Korea or any “terrorists” but if it is, once again, the terrorists win.

  15. EK says:

    Next thing the demented terrorists will threaten to hack the corporate offices of Direct TV, Dish, Comcast etc. if they carry the film. VOD makes sense in that exhibs can not object but the revenue will not be sufficient to recoup the production and marketing costs already expensed. Sony brass made a dumb decision in the first place by making the movie in its present form, targeting for satire the killing of a real live sitting dictator, especially an unbalanced terrorist, when it could easily have adjusted it and lost nothing. You reap what you sow no matter how I’ll conceived the planting.

    • Jansen says:

      @EK: completely agree. This is the main thing that bothers me about the film – killing a real living person. It doesn’t just bother me, it really pisses me off. These Hollywood types really do live in a bubble (after years of buying political clout). Seth Rogen (wrote the script) is a buffoon but I’d have thought Sony would have a little more sense. There are lots of protections, in works of fiction, for living people (as it pertains to libel – have not turned up anything re: killing a living person in fiction).

      I can understand why Kim Jong-un was chosen and if his character was somewhat obfuscated, there would have been less issues overall. I have to wonder what’s next? Mock and Kill someone who doesn’t have the ability to defend themselves in any form – including a dragged out and expensive lawsuit? There’s one thing I took from all of this: Sony (Rogen) crossed a line here (falsely believing that the bubble they live in represents the real world) and they deservedly got smacked down. Admittedly… the hackers completely lost me with the 9/11-style threats (it’s unpardonable) and now I hope they get squashed too.

  16. A. Gutierrez says:

    I can’t believe these “Chicken-shizzit” executives. I swear I won’t go to ANY movie at one of their places ever again. Tell them to grow a pair— how disgraceful. Can you imagine the laughing going on in N. Korea??

  17. Gigi says:

    Show the movie as a matter of principle and don’t let the tail wag the dog. I’m sick of the worldwide community’s “feelings” and their antics. If they get away with this, they’re going to push even harder for something even more invasive next time.

  18. Henry Deas says:

    This is the beginning of the end. No film is worth the lives of any human being, granted, however, now we are going to be susceptible to having the different cliques and groups sending threatening messages, hacking our systems, and deciding what we should show and what we should not. show. That is the inherent problem. Not a good idea for the Theater owners and the film studios,
    So maybe we should take Interview out of the theaters for safety sake. Better yet, change the name of the Dictator to a fictional name in a quick fix, even it it is dubbing or a with new cut added. Having not seen the film, I can tell you how much that would cost. Certainly not as much as Sony will lose on the film if they do not show it.

  19. Tim2B says:

    Yes, just Day and Date it with VOD and theaters. This will still allow people to see the film. What are the hackers going to do next – hack everyone’s TiVo? Good luck! This will actually end up being the perfect test experience to find out how such a VOD day and day works for a major publicized studio film. Usually, it’s done with smaller indies, and though some of have been successful it’s difficult to know how that technique would translate with a studio film that has huge awareness but a very limited theatrical release. But, don’t get stupid and think you can charge more than the normal VOD amount. That won’t work. I wouldn’t pay $10 to rent any film at home. That’s reserved for the theatrical experience. But, I would pay $10 to buy it at home. I can’t wait to see this film – at home or a theater. — and let’s stop being so afraid of anonymous hacker’s threats. They’re too afraid to let us know who they even are. So, why is anyone afraid of them outside the confines of their computer screen?

    • lakawak says:

      Theatrical experience? With a comedy? What to you get with a comedy at the theater that you can’t get at home? I mean other than the annoying talking, missed jokes from people laughing way too long and glow of cell phone lights everywhere? These are not movies that need to be seeing on a big screen with full Dolby sound to get the full effect.

  20. Wayne says:

    Hey movie theaters! Grow some balls and show some fortitude! Show the movie! What a cowardly approach to being bullied.

    • Fatboy says:

      Good Job Wayne, I agree, Pathetic!!!!!!!!!!!!…If I owned the theaters? I would hire a bunch of Former Navy Seals to guard every exit and entrance. And say..”Bring it on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”………The USA is becoming Cowards!!!!!!!

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