The poster for the movie "The Interview," December 25, 2014, is seen on the marquee of the Los Feliz 3 cinema in Los Angeles, California. (AFP/Robyn Beck)
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Now, with its release online at the same time it debuts in theaters, it has a new role: a test for a new kind of movie release.It's a challenge to the longstanding practice of "windowing" -- opening a movie first in theaters to maximize box-office revenue before making the movie available in other stages of home video, streaming and television.Sony released "The Interview" Wednesday on a variety of digital platforms -- Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft's Xbox Video and a separate Sony website.Nonetheless, releasing a major motion picture in theaters and online simultaneously -- known as a "day-and-date" release -- has never been done by a major studio with a mainstream movie like "The Interview". It's been limited to some smaller indie and foreign movies. Warner Bros. instead rented from AMC Theaters most of the 270 screens the movie played in while it was also released on VOD.Even if the movie were to be wildly successful and generate $100 million in video-on-demand revenue, that would leave about $30 million for Google and Microsoft to divide -- hardly anything for two of the world's most profitable companies.Although YouTube began renting movies nearly five years ago, many people think of the site as a destination for free clips lasting for a few minutes instead of place to watch full-length films.
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