Sony expands on-demand, theatrical release of The Interview movie

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Sony Pictures Entertainment on Wednesday added more viewing options for its controversial comedy The Interview, distributing the film on demand through US pay TV operators and expanding its reach in independent theatres.

The film, blamed for triggering a massive cyber attack on Sony’s movie studio, will also be sold through Wal-Mart Stores' digital on-demand service, Vudu, and will be available on Sony’s PlayStation Network, Sony said in a statement.

On Dec 17, Sony cancelled the Christmas Day release of The Interview after hackers threatened violence against movie theatres and major theatre chains refused to show it.

Following days of criticism from Hollywood celebrities and President Barack Obama, Sony struck deals to launch the film in 331 independent theatres and through online distributors, such as Google’s YouTube Movies.

Starting as early as Wednesday, US cable, satellite and telecommunications providers will make the The Interview available for rental through their video on-demand and pay-per-view services, Sony said.

The providers include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, AT&T’s U-verse, Verizon Communications’ Fios and DirecTV.

Vudu and Verizon customers also will have the option to buy the film, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists recruited by the CIA to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The movie also will play in more than 580 independent theatres starting on Friday.

Over the long Christmas holiday weekend, The Interview earned US$15 million (S$19.8 million) online in four days, before Apple’s iTunes started offering the film, and another US$2.8 million in theatres.