Those who want to watch The Interview online may soon have another option.
After handful of streaming sites announced Wednesday that they would begin offering the once-banned movie, the giant of the industry appears to be on board. Netflix is reportedly in talks to begin offering The Interview for streaming through its online service, which would bring the movie to its widest audience yet.
The movie was slated for release on Christmas Day but was shelved by Sony after hackers that infiltrated the studio made vague threats against theaters. The FBI claimed that the hackers originated from North Korea, and the move was believed to be in response to the movie’s subject matter, which includes a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The ban was controversial and drew criticism across the board. Even President Obama said he disagreed with the decision and wished Sony had consulted with him first.
But this week Sony authorized a number of theaters to screen the movie, and online distributors are picking it up as well. Those who want to watch The Interview online have plenty of options: Google Play, YouTube Movies, Xbox Video and the website SeetheInterview.com for $5.99, or $14.99 for an HD version.
Sony originally had an output deal with Starz, but in a statement issued Wednesday Starz said was working with Sony to allow other outlets to show the film.
“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.
Google vice president David Drummond said they were eager to be able to show the film and viewed its release as a victory for free speech.
“We’d had a similar thought and were eager to help — though given everything that’s happened, the security implications were very much at the front of our minds. Of course it was tempting to hope that something else would happen to ensure this movie saw the light of day. But after discussing all the issues, Sony and Google agreed that we could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech in another country (however silly the content might be).”
If Sony can strike a deal with Netflix to allow viewers to watch The Interview online, it would bring the movie to an audience of 53 million subscribers worldwide.