Sony Pictures will make its controversial comedy, "The Interview," available starting on Wednesday through online video platforms run by Google Inc , Microsoft Corp and Sony <6758.T> itself, the studio said.
Sony, which just last week canceled the release of the comedy - about two TV talk show hosts who are sent to North Korea to assassinate its leader Kim Jong Un - is now looking for ways to widen its distribution beyond a small group of some 200 independent theaters.
The movie, which triggered the most destructive cyberattack ever to target a U.S. company, will be available starting at 10 a.m. Pacific Time on Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft's Xbox Video and a dedicated website, www.seetheinterview.com.
The sites will offer the raunchy comedy, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, to rent for $5.99 or buy for $14.99.
"It was essential for our studio to release this movie, especially given the assault upon our business and our employees by those who wanted to stop free speech," Sony Entertainment Chief Executive Michael Lynton said in a statement. "We chose the path of digital distribution first so as to reach as many people as possible on opening day, and we continue to seek other partners and platforms to further expand the release.”
Sony said on Tuesday it was trying to secure other platforms to reach the largest possible audience after major theater chains refused to show it. That followed threats of September 11, 2001 style attacks from a group that has embarrassed Sony by releasing a series of emails and other confidential information.
U.S. President Barack Obama last week blamed the cyberattacks on North Korea, adding to a chorus of criticism by politicians and Hollywood actors, screenwriters and directors accusing Sony of succumbing to censorship.
No cable or satellite TV operator has yet agreed to make "The Interview" available through video on demand.
CNN, which first reported that Sony was in talks with Google's Youtube on releasing the movie, said the studio also had held talks with Apple Inc about making the comedy available on its iTunes store but that the negotiations broke down.
Obama vowed in a news conference on Friday to respond to the cyberattack "in a place and timing and manner that we choose."
Japan, meanwhile, has begun working to ensure basic infrastructure is safe and to formulate its diplomatic response, officials said, fearing it could be a soft target for possible North Korean cyberattacks in the escalating row over the Sony Pictures hack.
(Reporting by Michele Gershberg, Liana Baker and Christian Plumb; Editing by Gunna Dickson and Steve Orlofsky)