As previously reported by Variety, Netflix in December entered into talks with Sony about licensing “The Interview” to streaming subscribers after Starz, which has an output deal with the studio, released pay-TV window rights.
But it seems that the studio wanted to maximize digital and VOD sales first before opening up to SVOD: “The Interview” as of Sunday had generated more than $40 million in revenue via more than 5.8 million rentals and sales through digital distributors like Google Play, YouTube and iTunes as well as cable, satellite and telco TV providers, according to Sony Pictures.
The film stars James Franco and Seth Rogen as two bumbling American TV journalists enlisted by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The communist regime, according to U.S. officials, retaliated against SPE in one of the worst cyber-attacks on a private company to date, resulting in the release of internal studio emails, documents and several unreleased movies.
Netflix has exclusive SVOD rights to “The Interview” in the U.S. and Canada. CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells announced the deal in their fourth-quarter 2014 earnings letter to shareholders.
Sony launched digital distribution of “The Interview” on Dec. 24, 2014, a day before it opened in limited theatrical release. That came after SPE had pulled back plans on its original broad U.S. release in movie theaters, following threats by the hackers who attacked the company.
Sony has set Feb. 17 for the “Freedom Edition” release of the film on DVD and Blu-ray.