No joke, Sony just canceled the Christmas debut of Seth Rogen and James Franco's comedy The Interview, but it's not the case of "the terrorists have won."
Yes, AMC, Regal and other major multiplexes in the US that have pulled their support of the satirical film in which the North Korea's dear leader Kim Jong-un is set up to be assassinated.
Neither this decision, nor Sony's own nuclear option of yanking the picture from all remaining theaters, spells the end of the big-budget comedy that's the ire of hackers-turned-threateners.
In fact, the opposite may be true thanks to all of the other safer avenues Sony is attempting to ramp up while bypassing money-losing theater chains.
Home is where the PS4 is
There's nowhere safer than home, and that's exactly where everyone's PS4 console is set up.
Sony has swept early adopters' living rooms with more than 13.5 million sales of its next-gen system, and exclusively releasing The Interview via its online store could push that number further.
The alleged North Korean hacking has put a significant spotlight on the satirical film in which the country's dear leader Kim Jong-un is set up to be assassinated.
Shifting that spotlight to PS4 as an unexpected advertisement could sell more systems that cost $399 / £329 / AU$549. That's on top of the $60 premium Sony can charge for the movie.
Tower Heist tells a tale
There's actually some precedent to major film studios selling movies on-demand shortly after their theater premieres, and yes, it did cost the aforementioned $60 premium.
The best known case involved Comcast-owned Universal Pictures wanting to test this idea in 2011 with Tower Heist. It starred Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick, among other names. You didn't see it.
Tower Heist was widely panned for being hackneyed, but more thrilling was the real-life plot of Comcast wanting to release the movie on-demand three weeks after its initial premiere.
That didn't actually happen because theater owners began to boycott the movie, and rightly so. A trend like that would benefit the movie studio and kill ticket sales.
The Interview doesn't suffer from that same problem because theater owners have balked at showing it on the silver screen. Sony may have the green light to release the movie on PS4 right now.
First-time Sony Unlimited users
Think of all of those first-time Sony Video Unlimited users. As popular as PS4 has been over Xbox One, Sony's on-demand service hasn't become a household name.
That could begin to change if it offers a reason for newcomers to test Sony Video Unlimited. Selling The Interview as a timed-exclusive before launching to a wider on-demand audience could do the trick.
Sony could be in a similar position, yet not lose money in the exchange. It can't compare to Netflix and Amazon Instant Video because Sony's strategy doesn't involve stream movies for a monthly fee (maybe one day it will), but it's a start.
A silver lining for the silver screen
Sony's hack has been devastating to its movies, profits and employees, but this may be the one and only silver lining to its silver screen problems.
It makes a lot of sense for Sony to stream The Interview through PS4. Netflix has proven that this is where Hollywood is going eventually.
PS4 and, unintentionally, North Korea could accelerate the transition from theaters to at home movie watching that doesn't require an unnecessary wait.
If it proves successful, all of a sudden strangers talking during movies or getting up to use the bathroom could be problems of the past. All you have to do it hit pause on the PS4.
You'll still hear talking heads on cable news claim "We have lost to North Korea" because of Sony's decision, but it just may have helped PS4 for the win.
- See how Sony is doing in our PS4 vs Xbox One comparison
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