If you haven't heard about the infamous hack of Sony Pictures and the subsequent cancellation of its forthcoming comedy The Interview starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, then you might just live under a rock... or possibly in the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea. At the 11th hour Sony decided to release the movie to a small amount of independent theaters on Christmas day, despite threats of violence from hackers, and it's now available on Google Play Movies/YouTube.


The video-on-demand release comes after the vast majority of theaters in the United States and Canada declined to schedule showings of the movie, fearing violence despite a lack of credible evidence that the threat is serious. You can buy The Interview now for $14.99 in HD or rent it for $5.99 in HD. Playback on desktops, laptops, and Chrome goes through the standard Google Play/YouTube interface, but playing it on Android phones, tablets, Android TV, or Chromecast will go through the Google Play Movies app. The Interview is also available for purchase or rent on Microsoft's Xbox Video portal, but strangely not on iTunes.

The movie follows the comedy duo as they become the reluctant pawns in a (fictional) CIA plot to kill the (very real and still-living) dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. The (real) FBI has stated publicly that the hack and release of huge amounts of confidential Sony data was performed at the behest of the North Korean government. However, many digital security experts say that the given evidence is not conclusive and that the hacker's tactics and communications don't conform to state-level cyber-espionage. North Korean officials categorically deny the accusation, and have threatened "grave consequences" unless the United States joins a joint investigation to prove the isolationist socialist state's innocence.

The hackers, or at least people claiming to be the hackers, have demonstrated inconsistent behavior - at times they have demanded the destruction of all copies and promotional material of the film, and at other times have stated that they would "allow" a release of an edited version. Sony Pictures has been publicly embarrassed by the information that has been released so far, and stands to incur substantial losses both in potential film earnings and in damages from lawsuits filed by employees whose personal information has been compromised.

That being said, the unique situation of the Sony hack and the implication that a foreign government and/or "cyber-terrorists" have "won" by getting The Interview pulled has created an incredible amount of buzz. Between the limited theater screenings tomorrow and the digital release, Sony might just get more people to watch the comedy film than it would have with a conventional release. What we're experiencing is the "Streisand Effect" applied to international digital security and politics.

Google Play Store - The Interview