At first, the strange intrigue around “The Interview” seemed like a brilliant ploy by Sony to get attention for a holiday release that, though controversial, looked like a box office dud. The whole thing, delightfully nasty leaked emails aside, looked like a marketing plan gone terribly wrong.
I mean, look at this message from the purported North Korean hackers:
“The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”
It reads like a line from a South Park movie.
Well, Sony has now pulled the movie’s Christmas Day release and Homeland Security’s involved so it must be real. Some want to let pirates distribute it. But Sony can turn this lump of coal into a great gift for consumers — by simply switching the theatrical release to a streaming release.
“The Interview” could be the best test case ever for releasing a first-run movie via streaming now that the viewing public has been primed by round-the-clock publicity. Terror threats presumably would not be part of a normal first-run streaming release but the necessity, in the case of “The Interview,” of moving the whole shebang online to avoid violence creates an interesting paradigm for future releases. It would be cool to watch uncut interviews from the movie junkets, maybe a fake red carpet (shot on a soundstage) and all the trailers in one place as part of the price of admission.
Of course, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu may not want to touch this because of potential hacking danger to their own online systems, but it is a real shame that this threat could stop even a supposedly silly movie like “The Interview” from being seen.