The United Nations Security Council is meeting Monday to discuss North Korea’s bleak human rights record, the first time the council has taken up the issue. But it seems as if there’s a lot more concern about how and when Sony Pictures might release The Interview, the screwball comedy at the center of the international dust-up between Washington and Pyongyang.
Large movie theater chains are still refusing to show the film, which depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, so the movie will probably not have a traditional release.* Netflix, Hulu, and other online streaming services have not yet offered to buy and show the movie.
There’s a simple reason for the companies to stay away from the movie: vitriolic threats from Guardians of the Peace, the group that has claimed responsibility for the Sony hack. Amazon and Apple make hundreds of millions of dollars renting or selling movies online, so a hack would do far more damage to them than it would to a bricks-and-mortar movie theater chain.
The companies best situated to release the movie, in other words, are the ones that would have the most to lose from doing so.
Sony doesn’t seem all that interested, either. After President Barack Obama hammered Sony for pulling the planned Christmas Day release of the film, Sony lawyer David Boies told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press Sunday, Dec. 21, that the company “has been fighting to get this picture distributed” and stressed that “it’s going to be distributed.” Sony, though, has denied reports that it will show the movie for free on Crackle, its online streaming service.
One brave company has publicly offered to stream the film, but it’s not one that Sony might want to work with: BitTorrent, a San Francisco-based software company best known for its peer-to-peer file-sharing program used to spread pirated Hollywood movies, offered to release the movie in a way that would allow Sony to set a price and charge people who download the film.
“BitTorrent Bundle is a safe and legal way for Sony to release this film and they would join the nearly 20,000 creators and rights holders now using the Bundle publishing platform,” the company said in a statement.
There’s precedent for this. Earlier this year, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke released a solo album in a BitTorrent bundle, charging $6.00 for its full download. It’s far from clear, though, that a company as large as Sony will want to follow suit. The company did not return a request for comment.
*Correction, Dec. 22, 2014: The movie The Interview depicts the assassination of current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. An earlier version of this article mistakenly said it depicts the assassination of Kim Jong Il, the father of Kim Jong Un, who died in December 2011 after an apparent heart attack. (Return to reading.)
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