The Interview: Dumb region blocking succeeds where Korean hackers failed UPDATED

UPDATE: More than $US15 million in sales | Kim Dotcom "saves" Christmas.

UPDATE / Dec 30: The Interview is the best-seller on Google's Play and YouTube services, Variety reports.

In its first four days, the controversial movie earned more than $US15 million from online sales, offsetting a poor cinema box office of $US3 million as two major chains refused to play the movie because of its internet release (not that any had been lining up to screen it after the Korean hacker controversy broke).

The Interview was also released through Microsoft's Xbox Live network and a Sony site. But as the movie was released, the Sony Playstation Online and Microsoft Xbox Live networks were taken offline by a hacker group called Lizard Squad. It seemed the Squad was targetting online gamers rather than movie watchers. Nevertheless, those trying to watch The Interview were disrupted.

The attack lasted for several hours until Kim Dotcom offered the hackers 3000 lifetime premium accounts on Mega if they stopped. The deal was duly done, and the Lizard Squad backed off. Some thought Kim Dotcom had saved Christmas. I saw him rewarding bad behaviour.

"A big win for @KimDotcom on this. Great instincts and use of Mega currency," tweeted Lance Wiggs.

I'd say he achieved his aim of another truckload of free publicity, but Dotcom further damaged his reputation, and that of the file sharing site he founded.

And he now looks like a chump. Lizard Squad attacks on Sony PlayStation Online have reportedly continued post-deal. Or apparently there's more than one faction of the Squad, and Dotcom was dealing with the wrong one. Tricky stuff, doing deals with trouble-makers. 

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Dec 26: Just lurching briefly out of holiday mode to say: Oh, Sony.

It looked like Sony Pictures had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on Christmas Eve.

The under-siege studio decided to give The Interview limited theatre release and, more, stream it online for $US5.99 via its own site, SeeTheInterview.com, Microsoft's XBox Live and Google's Play and YouTube (yes, YouTube has a little-known pay-per-view movie option).

Genuis move. Sony set itself up to cash in on the curiosity factor before bad word-of-month spread about what is apparently a pretty average film (see Metacritic's review round up here).

Having recently plugged in Google's Chromecast, I looked up Google Play to download The Interview. I'm partial to a bit of Seth Rogen and, after all, it's become a bit of a historic film. No dice. The movie is only available for commercial download for those who live inside the US. Dumb region-blocking has succeeded where Korean hackers failed.

I have no idea what Sony is protecting here. When The Interview finally gets official release in NZ, all the buzz will be gone; the geek set are already sharing it on the Torrents. Money has gone begging.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

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