Sony Pictures is releasing The Interview digitally in the U.S. starting at 1 p.m. ET today, Dec. 24, the company announced in a press release.
The Interview will be available to rent or own in high definition on YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Video, as well as SeeTheInterview.com, a website Sony built for the movie. As of press time, that site is down. A rental will cost $5.99, while a purchase will cost $14.99. There's no word yet on a PlayStation Store release.
"It has always been Sony's intention to have a national platform on which to release this film," said Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Pictures and Sony Entertainment, in the press release. Lynton said Sony began discussions with Google, Microsoft and "other partners" on Dec. 17, the day Sony Pictures originally canceled The Interview's theatrical release. Sony went with a digital release one day prior to the theatrical premiere "so as to reach as many people as possible on opening day," said Lynton.
"We never stopped pursuing as wide a release as possible for The Interview. It was essential for our studio to release this movie, especially given the assault upon our business and our employees by those who wanted to stop free speech," Lynton continued. "This release represents our commitment to our filmmakers and free speech."
CNN Money reported earlier today that Sony Pictures and YouTube had reached a tentative agreement to release The Interview on YouTube on Christmas Day, the same day the film will arrive in hundreds of theaters around the country. Shortly afterward, Recode reported that The Interview would also be available on Google Play as well as Sony's "own site."
The announcement makes for a landmark release for a major studio: not just a day-and-date debut for a film in theaters and through digital services, but a digital release one day prior to the theatrical premiere.
The New York Times reported yesterday that Apple declined to release The Interview on iTunes on Christmas Day, which was the film's original premiere date. But Sony, in an about-face from its original position, decided yesterday to allow theaters to show The Interview on Dec. 25. Nearly 300 smaller theaters in almost every state have lined up Christmas Day screenings, and dozens more will premiere the film on Jan. 1, 2015, and Jan. 2. You can see a full list of theaters showing the movie here.
The Interview was originally set to screen on as many as 3,000 theaters on Christmas Day. However, the major theater chains declined to show the film following a threat from the organization that hacked Sony Pictures — a move that, according to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, forced Sony's hand in canceling the theatrical release a week ago.
Deadline reported that Sony's announcement yesterday of independent theaters like the Alamo Drafthouse being allowed to show The Interview drew the ire of the major theater chains that backed out of the Dec. 25 release. Today's news of a day-and-date digital debut alongside tomorrow's theatrical premiere is likely to further anger those larger distributors, who have fought against same-day digital releases for a long time.
Update: This story has been rewritten to reflect Sony's statement. We've reached out to Sony to ask about a PlayStation Store release for The Interview. We've also updated the article with links to the movie's digital releases.
Update 2: "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)," said David Drummond, chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development at Google, in a statement on the company's official blog.
Update 3: "After substantial thought, we decided to stand up with Sony and work with others to ensure that freedom of expression triumphs over cyber-terrorism," said Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and executive vice president for legal and corporate affairs, in a statement on the company's official blog. "We're not endorsing this movie or any other. We are supporting the Constitutional right of free expression, and we hope that by acting together, we will help deter other attacks."
Update 4: The Interview will be released on the PlayStation Store through Video Unlimited soon — Sony will determine the date "shortly," a representative for the company confirmed to Polygon this afternoon.