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Apple Starts Streaming "The Interview," Too (Update)

Sony generated $15 million in online sales before Apple signed on.

Sony Pictures
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

It took Apple a few days, but it’s joining the club: Starting today, iTunes users in the U.S. and Canada can rent and purchase “The Interview,” Sony’s controversial comedy.

The movie became available at Apple’s store at 1 pm ET today.

The move means Sony can fill a conspicuous hole in its online distribution strategy for the movie. Since Wednesday, the film had been available via Google’s Play and YouTube stores, Microsoft’s Xbox, and Sony’s own site. ITunes is offering the movie at the same price as other outlets — $6 to rent and $15 to own.

Apple’s brief comment about the news — “we’re pleased to offer ‘The Interview’ for rental or purchase on the iTunes store” — doesn’t explain why the company didn’t offer the movie on Wednesday, along with other online stores.

The most reasonable answer may be that Apple didn’t want to move at Sony’s speed. The studio announced that it was not going to distribute the movie via a conventional theatrical rollout on December 17, and a week later, it had a plan in place to stream it online and show it in a couple hundred independent theaters.

Sony has announced that “The Interview” grossed more than $1 million in ticket sales on Christmas Day, the first day the movie appeared in theaters. It hasn’t announced any totals from its online rental and sales. If you’re hoping to get some of those totals, you may be frustrated for some time, as studios and distributors typically don’t disclose digital numbers.

Update: Strike that! Sony says “The Interview” generated $15 million in online sales since Wednesday, via two million downloads and rentals. A source familiar with the company’s efforts says the “vast majority” of that revenue came from Google’s YouTube and Play stores.

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