NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - Sony made "The Interview" available for streaming on a variety of a services as of 1 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
The rental costs $5.99, or it can be purchased in HD for $14.99.
"It has always been Sony's intention to have a national platform on which to release this film," said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment. "We never stopped pursuing as wide a release as possible for 'The Interview.' It was essential for our studio to release this movie, especially given the assault upon our business and our employees by those who wanted to stop free speech. We chose the path of digital distribution first so as to reach as many people as possible on opening day, and we continue to seek other partners and platforms to further expand the release."
As CBS2's Matt Kozar reported, the decision to release the film online could potentially be a game changer in how Hollywood movies are released to the public.
"I think it's entirely possible we haven't heard the last of the streaming partners that will be joining Sony on this," said Andrew Wallenstein, Co-Editor in Chief with Variety. " We have yet to hear from Netflex. We have yet to hear from iTunes."
"I kept seeing the trailer in the theater and I really wanted to see it," Woodland resident Dionne Argyle told CBS2's Ilana Gold.
Sony is also moving forward with plans to show the movie at independent theaters around the country on Christmas Day.
"Crazy busy. The phone has been ringing off the hook. Either people want to buy tickets or want to know if we're showing the movie," said Lee Peterson of Cinema Village. "It's about freedom. It's about somebody had to step up to the plate. And I think the indies are the people to do it."
The film was originally set to debut in roughly 3,000 theaters. It will now open in just over 300. Sony pulled the plug on a nationwide release after hackers calling themselves "Guardians of Peace" threatened 9/11-style attacks.
One moviegoer Gold spoke with said he had no concerns about his safety at the theater.
"I can't live like that. Otherwise it's not worth living," the man said.
Peterson said Cinema Village will have beefed up security.
In our area, it will be shown at theaters in Paterson, Clifton and North Bergen in New Jersey. Two theaters in Long Island will also show it, and it will also run at the Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers.
For a complete list of theaters showing the movie, click here.
For Sony, the decision was the culmination of a gradual about-face: After initially saying it had no plans to release the movie, the company began softening its position after it was broadly criticized.
One of the loudest critics of the film's shelving, President Barack Obama, hailed Sony's reversal.
"The president applauds Sony's decision to authorize screenings of the film," said Obama spokesman Eric Schultz. "As the president made clear, we are a country that believes in free speech, and the right of artistic expression. The decision made by Sony and participating theaters allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome."
White House officials declined to elaborate on what role, if any, the White House played in Sony's decision to reverse itself, but pointed out that Obama had stated publicly that he believed Sony's earlier decision to cancel the release was a mistake.
Seth Rogen, who stars in the film he co-directed with Evan Goldberg, made his first public comments in a surreal ordeal that began with hackers leaking Sony executives' emails and culminated in an ongoing confrontation between the U.S. and North Korea. The FBI has said North Korea was behind the hacking attacks.
"The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn't give up!" said Rogen on Twitter.
"VICTORY!!!!!!!" said James Franco, who co-stars in the film. "The PEOPLE and THE PRESIDENT have spoken."
North Korea's Internet was shut down in an apparent attack Monday, and continued to be roiled by intermittent outages Tuesday. That followed President Barack Obama's vow of a response to what he called North Korea's "cyber vandalism" of Sony. The White House and State Department have declined to say whether the U.S. government was responsible for North Korea's outages.
After hackers last Wednesday threatened terrorist attacks against theaters showing the film, the nation's major multiplex chains dropped "The Interview." Sony soon thereafter canceled the film's release altogether and removed mention of it from its websites.
But that decision drew widespread criticism, including from Obama, who chastised Sony for what he deemed "a mistake" that went against American principles of free speech. George Clooney also led a chorus pressuring for the movie's release and rallying against alleged corporate self-censorship.
Releasing "The Interview" could potentially cause a response from the hackers, who called themselves the Guardians of Peace. There have been none of the embarrassing data leaks of Sony emails since the movie's release was delayed. In a message last week to the studio, the hackers said Sony's data would be safe so long as the film was never distributed.
You may also be interested in these stories:
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
for more features.