Sony's "The Interview", which triggered an unprecedented deep and damaging data hack, will have significant lasting repercussions. But data warfare, security issues and fear mongering aside, it's lasting legacy on the movie industry's film release strategy will be exciting to watch.
"The Interview" is the first major studio film to aggressively use alternative distribution models on day one. In addition to being available in 330 independent theaters nation wide, it was made available on YouTube, Google Play, XBox, and even direct from the movie website, at a competitive price of $5.99 to rent or $14.99 to buy, even before the film hit independent theaters.
Previous tests of same day release windows had embarrassingly prohibitive price tags and restrictions. But with theater monopolies giving up their leverage, Sony had an opportunity to do something different. And the big winner is us consumers (not to mention Google, who was able to put its almost anonymous YouTube video rentals service in the limelight).
A few of the many interesting press quotes about yesterday's release:
"More interesting than the film itself is the unique release strategy Sony Pictures was forced to adopt ... while it's far from a great film, The Interview has inadvertently become a cinematic milestone. Its content led to terrorist threats and an unprecedented studio cancellation. But with its unique release strategy, it may also pave the way for Hollywood to completely rethink how we see films in the future." -- Engadget
"The theater operators have to date been very hostile to the idea that a film studio would put a film out directly to viewers over the Internet on the same “day and date” that the film is released in the theaters. If Sony has a massive online viewership of The Interview today, that could change the dynamic between the film studios and the theater industry ... This could be a watershed moment for over the top online film distribution." -- Fred Wilson
Paying for and watching "The Interview" yesterday wasn't just a vote for free speech, it was a vote for access to content the way we want it. Hopefully the film did as well both online and in theaters. Hopefully this is just the first domino to fall.