12/24/2014 11:57 EST | Updated 02/23/2015 05:59 EST

The Interview gets online release today

One day after Sony Pictures announced The Interview would be screened in indie U.S. theatres starting Dec. 25, the media company announced the film would also be available for rent or purchase online today, according to Sony's CEO.

"It was essential for our studio to release this movie," said Sony Entertainment's chief executive, Michael Lynton, in a statement, "especially given the assault upon our business and our employees by those who wanted to stop free speech."

The online release will include the following sites starting at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday:

The controversial comedy will also available for rent or purchase on its own dedicated website at a cost of $5.99 to rent and $14.99 to buy the movie in HD (all figures in U.S. dollars).

Additionally, Sony is seeking other partners and platforms for an even wider release.

Sony's sudden U-turn

The announcement is just the latest in Sony's abrupt U-turn over the release of Seth Rogen's satire on North Korea.

Sony pulled the movie last week after hackers linked to North Korea threatened violence if it didn't, and major theatre chains decided not to screen it.

Then suddenly on Tuesday, Sony authorized the release of the movie to some 200 independent U.S. theatres with screenings begin Christmas Day.

That's down from an original planned release of 3,000 cinemas nationwide.

No screenings planned in Canada

A Sony representative told CBC news that the entertainment company was looking at releasing the movie in Canadian theatres, but there were no screenings planned for Dec. 25.

Still, for the ambitious Canadian theatre-goer, there are U.S. cinemas showing The Interview that are within driving distance for passport-holding ​Canadians — including the Palace 9, in Burlington, Vt.​, which is offering free popcorn to any moviegoer who brings a copy of the U.S. Constitution.

Here are some of the closest, by province (including approximate driving times):

British Columbia:

- Stanwood Cinemas 5, Stanwood, Wash.(1 hour, 50 minutes from Vancouver).

- Ark Lodge Cinemas, Seattle, Wash. (3 hours from Vancouver).

- Plaza Three Cinemas, Oak Harbor, Wash. (2 hours from Vancouver).


- Grand Theater 6, Williston, N.D. (3½ hours from Regina).


- Fargo Theater 2, Fargo, N.D. (3½ hours from Winnipeg).


- Phoenix Theatres State-Wayne, Wayne, Mich. (30 minutes from Windsor).

- State Theatre, Ann Arbor, Mich. (51 minutes from Windsor).

- Tower City Cinemas, Cleveland, Ohio. (2 hours, 41 minutes from Windsor).

- The Dunkirk Movieplex 59, Dunkirk, N.Y. (1 hour, 15 minutes from Niagara Falls).

- Dipson Flix 10 Stadium, Lancaster, N.Y. (45 minutes from Niagara Falls, starting Dec. 26).

- American 5, Canton, N.Y. (1 hour from Cornwall).


- Merrill’s Roxy, Burlington, Vt. (1½ hours from Montreal ).

- Palace 9, Burlington, Vt. (1½ hours from Montreal, starting Dec. 31).

New Brunswick:

- Hollywood Cinemas, Bangor, Me. (3 hours from Saint John).

- Caribou Cinema 4, Caribou, Me. (2 hours from Fredericton) .

Theatregoers are advised to confirm listings and times before heading out this holiday.

Problematic plot

The Interview stars Vancouver-born comedian Seth Rogen and Hollywood actor James Franco as American tabloid TV journalists. But their plans to interview North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un are derailed when they're recruited to assassinate him.

​Emails between Rogen and Sony Pictures chief executive Amy Pascal, leaked earlier this month, ​revealed that scenes in the movie showing the North Korean leader’s head exploding were problematic for the CEO of Sony’s Japanese parent company, who apparently asked the graphic depictions be toned down.

The plot also angered the North Korea government, which condemned the film for months and called the cyberhack against Sony a "righteous deed."

In a Twitter message Tuesday, Rogen expressed relief that his long-awaited project will finally be seen by audiences.

"The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn't give up!" said Rogen, who also wrote the screenplay for the film.