LOS ANGELES — With the help of the technology giants Google and Microsoft, Sony Pictures began distributing “The Interview” online Wednesday after a terror threat led the major theater chains to cancel the film’s release.Among the Internet services that offered the film were the Google Play store, Google’s YouTube and Microsoft’s Xbox Video.Sony began showing the film on a website of its own, with help from the technology companies Kernel and Stripe. The film was available to rent for $6. Consumers can buy it for $15.A day earlier, Sony revealed new plans to release “The Interview” today in about 200 theaters owned by small chains or independent operators. Sony said that number had grown to about 300.Google and Microsoft joined what had become more a campaign to defend free speech against foreign intimidation than a business initiative.The initial theatrical retreat followed a threat — traced by the FBI to the North Korean government — of 9/11-style violence against theaters that showed the lowbrow comedy, which is about the assassination of North Korea’s ruler.“It was essential for our studio to release this movie, especially given the assault upon our business and employees by those who wanted to stop free speech,” Michael Lynton, chairman of Sony Pictures, said in a statement Wednesday.
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