Apple Adds Sony Pictures’ ‘The Interview’ to ITunes Store

Apple Inc. began offering Sony Corp.’s “The Interview” through its iTunes Store today, less than a week after the comedy first went on competing streaming websites, foiling hackers’ efforts to derail the movie.

The movie went online at about 1 p.m. in New York, priced at $5.99 to rent and $14.99 to own for U.S. and Canadian customers. Getting “The Interview” to iTunes gives Sony even greater online reach for the movie.

Sony Pictures Entertainment made the movie available beginning Dec. 24 on Google Play and YouTube Movies along with Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox video console and, a website sponsored by Sony. The film was also released in a limited number of theaters on Dec. 25 after major theater chains canceled their planned Christmas Day showing following threats of violence from hackers linked to North Korea, who had conducted a cyber-attack on Sony’s computers last month.

“The Interview,” a farce about a plot to kill North Korea’s leader, took in more than $1 million in ticket sales on Christmas Day from the more than 300 locations and topped the charts of the Xbox video store and YouTube’s movie store.

A group called Guardians of Peace has claimed responsibility for infiltrating Sony Pictures Entertainment’s servers, destroying data, exposing Hollywood secrets and forcing the studio to disrupt its plans for the film’s release.

Online Premiere

Last week’s online rollout marked the highest-profile feature film to debut on the Internet and gave Google’s YouTube a chance to show that it’s more than just a destination for user-generated videos. Google has been adding a growing collection of films, including “Divergent” and “The Lego Movie,” in a drive to bolster its premium content to compete with Apple’s music and video library.

The unconventional rollout of “The Interview” is the first big test for a simultaneous theatrical and online release. Typically, such debuts have been reserved for smaller films, such as independent movies that may not have enough widespread appeal to warrant a big theatrical marketing budget, according to Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Rentrak Corp., a market-research firm that tracks the movie business.

The movie’s arrival in theaters wasn’t met with any reports of violence. On the same day, however, game networks for Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live were hit by connection failures. Services were restored for Sony’s PS4 game console yesterday and for Microsoft on Dec. 26, according to the companies. Hackers calling themselves Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for the disruptions.

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