Scrapped film The Interview could be set for a release after all.
Sony Pictures said they were “surveying alternatives” for showing the North Korea-themed comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, after it was criticised for cancelling the film’s cinema release by President Barack Obama.
“That’s not what America is about,” said the US President of the studio’s decision. “I wish they’d spoken to me first. I would have told them, ‘Do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks’.”
Sony Pictures chief executive Michael Lynton has since hit back at claims that his company had given in to the hackers, saying, “We have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered and we have not backed down.”
The studio is now actively looking into alternatives to a cinema release, despite a spokesman telling Deadline on Wednesday that there were “no further release plans” for the film.
“It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so,” added Lynton in a statement.
But what are the options available to Sony?
Netflix was the first company on everyone’s lips when the news came that The Interview would not be getting a cinema release.
Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon could host the film through their on-demand platform, with stars including George Clooney urging Sony to take this option.
“Stick it online,” he said in an interview with Deadline. “Do whatever you can to get this movie out.”
However, this isn’t as easy as it looks. Sony CEO Lynton told CNN that “there has not been one major VOD – video on demand distributor – one major e-commerce site that has stepped forward and said they are willing to distribute this movie for us.”
And a statement from Netflix doesn’t give anything away: “We are approached on virtually every unconventional release by the networks and studios and, as a matter of course, don’t discuss publicly the pitches, concepts or ideas that come our way.”
The file sharing company has offered to distribute the film through its pay service BitTorrent Bundle. A statement from its Director of Communications Christian Averill read, “There have been calls for Sony to release the film online. And many have contacted us asking: Would they be able to release the movie using BitTorrent?
“Though we normally would not offer commentary during such a trying time for another company, the answer is yes. BitTorrent Bundle is in fact the very best way for Sony to take back control of their film, to not acquiesce to terrorists threats, and to ensure a wide audience can view the film safely. It would also strike a strong note for free speech.”
Bundle is a self-publishing platform, meaning Sony would have control over how it was released and the price. BitTorrent added that it was not a “piracy site”, but “a safe and legal way for Sony to release this film.”
Sony have not commented on BitTorrent’s offer.
After ruling out this option earlier in the week, Sony appear to have put it back on the table with their latest reaction to Obama’s criticism. “Let us be clear – the only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theatres, after the theatre owners declined to show it,” Sony said.
However, any planned DVD release would take time compared to the online distribution options above.
George RR Martin
Yes, the Game Of Thrones author has offered his services to the beleaguered studio, although if you want to watch it with him you might want to start looking at flights to New Mexico.
The author wrote on his website Not A Blog that he would be happy to screen The Interview at his own cinema in Santa Fe, even offering actor Seth Rogen a personal invitation.
“For what it’s worth, the Jean Cocteau Cinema will be glad to screen The Interview (assuming that Sony does eventually release the film for theatrical exhibition, rather than streaming it or dumping it as a direct-to-DVD release), should it be made available to us,” George RR Martin wrote. “Come to Santa Fe, Seth, we’ll show your film for you.”