The Interview makes $15m in online release

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The Interview poster
The Interview stars James Franco and Seth Rogen as two journalists recruited to kill the North Korean leader

Controversial Sony film The Interview has become the number one online movie ever released by the studio just four days after its release on 24 December.

The film raked in over $15m (£9.6m) and was downloaded more than two million times as of 27 December.

The film, about a fictional American plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was initially halted from being released by the studio.

It angered North Korea and was behind a wide scale cyber attack on the studio.

The hack from a group calling itself the Guardians of Peace led to the leaking of confidential information including upcoming movie scripts, confidential emails and actors’ salaries.

Sony halted the release after unspecified threats of attacks against theatres and moviegoers.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) later said its investigation into the hacking attack pointed the finger at North Korea. The country denied involvement, but described the hack as a “righteous deed”.

Sony said in a statement on Sunday that the movie was made available in the US and Canada through Google services YouTube and Play, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and its dedicated website in HD versions for 48-hour rental at $5.99 and for purchase at $14.99.

There was also a “strong turnout” for the movie’s limited theatre release, after major US chains backed out of screening it.

Sony’s move to cancel the film’s release had garnered criticism in the US including from President Barack Obama, who said it meant freedom of expression was under threat.

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The Interview saga

The Interview features James Franco and Seth Rogen as two journalists granted an audience with Mr Kim. The CIA then enlists the pair to assassinate him.

  • 22 November: Sony computer systems hacked, exposing embarrassing emails and personal details about stars
  • 7 December: North Korea denies accusations that it is behind the cyber-attack, but praises it as a “righteous deed”
  • 16 December: “Guardians of Peace” hacker group threatens 9/11-type attack on cinemas showing film; New York premiere cancelled
  • 17 December: Leading US cinema groups say they will not screen film; Sony cancels Christmas Day release
  • 19 December: FBI concludes North Korea orchestrated hack; President Obama calls Sony cancellation “a mistake”
  • 20 December: North Korea proposes joint inquiry with US into hacks, rejected by the US
  • 22 December: North Korea suffers a severe internet outage; US authorities decline to comment
  • 23 December: Sony bosses appear to change their minds, saying they will now give The Interview a limited Christmas Day release
  • 25 December: The Interview is shown in some US cinemas and released online

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