What 'The Interview' Christmas Day Sales, Rentals Say About A Nation's Freedom

In an unprecedented show of support for democracy, Sony Pictures agreed to release "The Interview" in theaters and online Christmas Day, making history along with Google, Microsoft and the thousands who streamed the controversial movie. The movie studio formed an alliance with Google and Microsoft to rent and sell the comedy online in the midst of the North Korea-linked cyberterrorism attack to rent or buy from their online video stores. I was among the moviegoers eager to understand the reasoning behind the controversy and show support for free speech. Now it's time for U.S. officials to take cyberattacks more seriously.

Sony's studio also set up a new Web site,, to offer the movie directly. Since its release, "The Interview" continues to sell out at the more than 300 theaters willing to run the movie, and also continues to top the movie sales chart on the Google PlayStore, and leads as one of the "Top Selling" playlist on the YouTube Movies site.

While I had a few issues, except for a minor interruption (slow buffering) about an hour into the movie on Google Play, USA Todayreports that online game networks Xbox Live and PlayStation Network remain down Friday after an apparent hack attack. The two services were offline much of Christmas Day in an apparent denial of service attack. Login issues for users of Microsoft's and Sony's systems are being investigated.

The groundbreaking decision to release a movie simultaneously online and in theaters has been met with skepticism in the past, but if widely successful, Sony's move could set a new precedent. Seeing "The Interview" in theaters or streaming it from the comfort of home became more of a patriotic act than the importance of viewing the movie itself. For many, the decision to see the movie became an act to support free speech in the United States, rather than to enjoy the entertainment.

Christmas Day, about 300 independently owned U.S. theaters began running "The Interview," while major theater chains like Regal Entertainment and AMC Entertainment last week opted out after people who claimed responsibility for the cyberattack on Sony Pictures threatened violence against venues screening it.

The movie's theme isn't new. The crude comedy puts it in the same category as the slapstick humor in "Airplane," as what moviegoers have seen in "Animal House." Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg co-directed the film, in which the characters frequently discuss sex and body parts.

It might have made a stronger statement being released on the U.S. Independence Day, but Christmas Day will have to do.

13 comments about "What 'The Interview' Christmas Day Sales, Rentals Say About A Nation's Freedom ".
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  1. Robin Solis from, December 28, 2014 at 1:24 p.m.

    I approve of this entire scenario; moving ahead and specifically, the rethinking of cyber attack thwarting.

  2. Richard Snyder from CityBites Media, December 28, 2014 at 10:26 p.m.

    "In an unprecedented show of support for democracy..."? I thought you were being sarcastic, but in fact you're just an idiot. What an uninformed and moronic article (I use the term loosely). Hook line and sinker, Ms. Sullivan. Scratch the surface, do your research, look beyond the twaddle you've been fed on this story. Good god.

  3. Jonathan McEwan from MediaPost, December 29, 2014 at 12:22 p.m.

    And happy holidays to you, too, Mr. Snyder. Thank you for reminding us all about the pitfalls of letting lay people leave commentary with impunity, and reminding us of what's wrong with today's American society — bad parenting. Good god indeed.

  4. Lubin Bisson from Qzedia Media Inc, December 29, 2014 at 12:50 p.m.

    Researchers from security firm Norse allege that their investigation of the hack of Sony has uncovered evidence that leads, decisively, away from North Korea as the source of the attack. Instead, the company alleges that a group of six individuals is behind the hack, at least one a former Sony Pictures Entertainment employee who worked in a technical role and had extensive knowledge of the company’s network and operations. So does this mean former Sony employees angry over their firing during a recent reorganization at the company are the cause of this groundbreaking decision to take cyberattacks more seriously? Should the the film have been released on Cyber Monday? (Whatta crock....)

  5. Laurie Sullivan from lauriesullivan, December 29, 2014 at 1:59 p.m.

    Thank goodness for democracy and free speech, Richard Snyder, otherwise you could not have posted your opinion.

  6. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, December 29, 2014 at 5:56 p.m.

    This entire debate is so tired and insulting. It has nothing to do with democracy. It's about money, period.

  7. Laurie Sullivan from lauriesullivan, December 29, 2014 at 6:39 p.m.

    Mike, it's about democracy, free speech and protecting data -- brands and consumers. If you believe Lubin's theory, 2015 will prove a very interesting year, and I hope companies wake up and start doing a better job of protecting data. And if a former Sony Pictures Entertainment employee was behind the hack (for money), protecting democracy, free speech, and data will become much more difficult.

  8. Jay Fredrickson from Fredrickson Services Inc., December 29, 2014 at 7:09 p.m.

    I agree that it is about money, but a few other things happened here. When North Korea's internet went down last week, the CIA went in the back door and did serious damage to most of the hacking groups based there. destrotyed files, wiped hard drives, and now have better access to,what's going on once they were brought up. The CIA also uncovered the source of the leaks was local and watch for charges to be filed soon.

  9. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, December 29, 2014 at 7:39 p.m.

    Laurie, regardless of who was behind the hack, the only freedom of speech and the press involved here is Sony's manipulation of the "free" press they've received courtesy of those like yourself who have jumped on the wrong bandwagon for all the wrong reasons. Freedom of speech as expressed in the 1st amendment was to safeguard the right of an individual to speak out against the new government without fear of reprisal. It never was intended as a blanket freedom of speech. Indeed, our courts are clogged with
    cases of slander and liable, all involving something someone said or wrote that is not protected under the 1st amendment. You can say anything you want, but you can be held reasonably responsible for your actions if your intent was to cause damage to another. That you would equate Richard Snyder's rightful opinion of you and your article to the essence of democracy should embarrass you as it does me. Time to call a spade a spade and put this ridiculously self-serving and shameful manipulation of public opinion to bed once and for all. Enough already.

  10. Jonathan McEwan from MediaPost, December 29, 2014 at 8:05 p.m.

    Well argued, Mr. Einstein. It is heartening to read an intelligent and well considered piece of writing. It's always nice to see an opinion piece (a blog post, not really an "article" as it has been mislabeled in a number of comments here) spark dialog. I would take a moment to point out that it was posted on the 26th and further news has broken since. Though I do come down on the Laurie's side here. Her observation remains pretty much on point: misinformation and media manipulation did indeed spark a patriotic surge to download, attend and watch in whatever form possible this otherwise trifling and undeserving "flick." As for Mr. Snyder's "rightful" opinion, I personally don't consider name calling a proper argument or even an opinion really. And while I see a lot of deplorable language in comments on stories across the Internet, I don't personally subscribe to the "everybody does it, so it must be ok" school of thought. If you have an argument, make it. Write it down clearly and succinctly. Anything else is uncalled for and just plain rude.

  11. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, December 29, 2014 at 8:31 p.m.

    Jonathan, by "rightful", all I meant is that Mr. Snyder has a right to his opinion, just as it is anyone else's right to agree with him or not. But Laurie's preaching smacks of " it or leave it", and that only serves to cheapen the entire concept of freedom. Could Mr. Snyder have chosen his words more carefully? Certainly. Just as Laurie could have. And therein lies the real point, because both chose wrongly, which was their right.

  12. john flynn from jflynn aps, December 30, 2014 at 9:16 a.m.

    Ok we understand that its down we do deserve something in return now noing that we have to pay for online.

  13. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, December 31, 2014 at 9:52 a.m.

    How many of those patriotics actually took the time to make sure they vote in every election ? Watching a movie does not constitute patriotism; that's snake oil. FOLO like a 6 year old for people who would not have spent the money or time to see it otherwise. Mike, you hit the target again. Freedom of speech does not mean speech is free. It means you will not be arrested, jailed. It doesn't mean you won't have repercussions. No teaching moment here; just more misinformation.

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