Disclaimer: This is purely speculation and opinion.
By now most should know that Sony Pictures has pulled The Interview from all theaters, but apparently there might still be hope for an On Demand option through the PS4 and other possible outlets. It’s not surprising that Sony is considering this apporoach when you start to think about the millions of dollars they’ve invested in the film, but it’s kind of ironic that the cyber attacks might actually had back fired in the faces of North Koreans if the film gets an On Demand release. Just think about basic human psychology for a few seconds. When someone thinks that they can’t have something they end up wanting it more, so the theatrical cancelation of the film may result in more sales for Sony in the end, because people who had no intention of seeing it will want to see it now. If you just look at social media and comments people had made some clearly state that they only want to see this film because someone told them they can’t. Furthermore, it’s a good chance that the principal of scarcity may play a role in this situation. The possibility of scarcity comes into play, because movie watchers may fear that the movie may be pulled again from On Demand if threats continue, so they are more likely to watch it the first chance they get, but there’s much more to consider.
I understand that this post is based off of a lot of ifs and speculation, but there’s a good possibility that this might happen, and if it does there’s so much more Sony has to gain than just the sales from On Demand rentals. Firstly, if Sony chooses a On Demand PS4 exclusive VOD option then they could end up selling more PS4 consoles through the media coverage of the controversy. Secondly, there’s always the option of Sony reaching out to their partners to put the movie on more platforms other than the ones they have at their expense, and as a direct consequence may start a new straight to On Demand trend that other studios might follow. If the VOD release gets the green light then I see The Interview sparking an VOD revolution by paving the way for other films to release straight to VOD and skip the theater all together.
I’ve been wondering for years now why big movie studios are not taking advantage of the largest audience they could get, which is the home television. Studios should not over look VOD services considering that almost every US household has some kind of streaming device, high speed internet and of course a television, but more importantly it could me much more profitable for Sony to deliver the film digitally to households than to physically delivering the film all across the country to thousands of theaters. I know that I much rather pay the same amount of money for an On Demand movie than buying a ticket at a crowded theater, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that kind of thinking.
I just want to be clear that The Interview alone will not be enough to complete the shift from theaters to the home, but I’m just suggesting that it might be the first film to do so with a strong likelihood that other will follow Sony’s lead. To add to this point the streaming option for the interview and other films that choose to skip the theater will need to charge home viewers a premium. I personally don’t see much of a difference if I choose to pay $13 to watch it at home rather than the theater. Yes, the rest of my household will be able to watch it with me for the same price, but I truly believe that movie studios can reach a larger audience by delivering their content straight to people’s televisions. The profitability starts to make sense when you consider the economic principal of price equilibrium, which basically means that with a lower overall price you can attract a larger audience. I just see this as being the next big step in the evolution of the movie experience.
There was once a time when you parked your car in a lot to watch a movie, but that’s a thing of the past now, and soon will the theater be in the past too if streaming continues to takes off like I think it will. I only see the streaming trend getting stronger each year and by no means I’m I suggesting that The Interview started this trend. All I’m saying is that it has only pushed it further. In actuality this trend was started years ago with services like Netflix and Hulu, and in reality we are living in a golden age of streaming services. It’s clear to me that streaming is the future of entrainment, and as I said earlier, we have the devices and the internet speeds to make this happen, but it’s simply a matter of time before streaming goes into full swing.
I sincerely hope that Sony expresses their freedom of speech right, and goes through with a VOD release. After all the home is the safest place to watch a film like this, but it’s also important to note that this is not the first time Hollywood has made a movie about North Korea. Remember Team America? So basically North Korea has completely over reacted to this and the movie should be released in some form.