Facing a “terrorist” threat theaters all around the U.S. backed away from showing The Interview last week.
Sony Pictures was left with no other option than to find online platforms to show the controversial movie to a broad audience during the holidays, and they eventually did.
Yesterday afternoon news broke that the film was available for streaming on YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Live. A group of hackers shouldn’t be able to chill freedom of speech, Sony and Google reasoned.
“…after discussing all the issues, Sony and Google agreed that we could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech in another country,” Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond commented.
Unfortunately, however, this free speech can only be heard by the U.S. public for now. People outside of the States will have to wait for weeks or months to see a film that was “trending” worldwide on Christmas eve.
And that’s where another group of self proclaimed freedom fighters come in.
Shortly after the first stream was made public various pirated copies quickly started to populate torrent sites and other sharing platforms.
Even The Pirate Bay jumped in by adding the hash of one of The Interview’s torrents to the top left corner of it’s site, linking it to a Google search. In addition, the site added a cartoon picture of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.
With The Interview making headlines for several weeks, it’s clear there’s a massive interest in the film. This is reflected download statistics too.
Data collected by TorrentFreak shows that The Interview was downloaded an estimated 200.000 times though BitTorrent during the first 10 hours it was available, and this number is still growing rapidly.
Browsing through the commentary on various torrent sites we see that restricted availability is a common topic.
“Just signed up to say Thanks, since it was not released outside of US when it should be all at the same time. Will now be finally able to watch this,” one downloader told his peers.
Considering the unique situation, it’s a real shame that Sony didn’t seize this opportunity to try a worldwide debut. It would have certainly brought in extra revenue.
Yes, of course, those who pirate the movie are breaking the law in most countries. But honestly, is it really a surprise that so many people outside the U.S. are prepared to cross the line to see a movie tied to one of the biggest news stories of the year?
Update: The number of estimated downloads had exceeded 750,000 after 20 hours.
The number of active sharers on the most popular torrent is more than three times higher than 10 hours ago (close to 100k).
Update: The estimated number of downloads passed the 1.5 million mark after roughly two days, and the download rate is slowing down significantly. The download numbers are comparable to that of popular blockbusters, but they’re certainly not exceptional.