Fear not, fans of James Franco and Seth Rogen’s comedic collaborations: Controversial new offering The Interview might have its day after all.
That is, if Sony can decide where they’d like to release it.
The Interview, a dark comedy from the minds behind Pineapple Express and This Is The End, centers on bumbling broadcast journalist Dave Skylark (Franco) and producer Aaron Rapaport (Rogen) as an interview with an unexpected fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, snowballs into an espionage-filled assassination attempt.
Major theater chains, fearing retribution over the film’s content, compelled Sony to cancel The Interview’s Christmas Day release. Now, with a completed $44 million movie on their hands and a public eager to see it, Sony is considering streaming video as a means of bypassing a traditional theatrical release.
The question, it seems, becomes which streaming service Sony will turn to.
There are several options, each with their own casts of sponsors and partners doubtlessly anxious to get in on the action of a well-liked comedy team’s newest film. Crackle, Sony’s in-house producer of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, is an obvious choice, though Sony spokeswoman Lauren Condoluci denied rumors they’d already selected it by stating they were “still exploring options for distribution”.
“There have been a lot of conversations about the robustness of various systems to be able to make sure they’re not hacked, if and when we put the movie out digitally,” added Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton in a recent interview. “I think, in general, we need to bring together a coalition of platforms to make this operate properly.”
Regardless, Sony’s intention to put The Interview through to release outside of theaters will make it arguably the highest-profile film ever to be subject to a mobile-first streaming strategy, albeit under extraordinary circumstances. Whether The Interview comes to Crackle, YouTube, PlayStation Now, or some other service, the audience it brings along with it will reap massive benefits for sponsors involved.
Also of note: Peer-to-peer file sharing giant BitTorrent has expressed an interest in taking The Interview off Sony’s hands, offering to utilize their paygate-enabling Bundle service for the benefit of both parties. “This is bigger than Sony at this point,” BitTorrent chief content officer Matt Mason said of their offer. “We can’t let this go, and by we, I mean the free world. When it comes to freedom of speech, what’s happening with this is really frightening. This film should come out, whether on BitTorrent or not, even if it’s the worst movie in the world.”
A Sony-BitTorrent partnership would carry a fair amount of irony along with it, as peer-to-peer services were instrumental in the propagation of Sony Pictures’ leaked documents after they’d been hacked.