Merry Christmas Everyone

It’s Christmas Day, a holiday in much of the world and one of the biggest religious holidays of the year. We are spending it with family and friends on a beach in the caribbean. I hope that all of you are spending the day with friends and family. I know that Christmas is a tough day for some and I hope that you have someone close to you to spend it with.

If you are looking for something to do, I would suggest watching The Interview, which we discussed here last week. I have no idea if this movie is any good or not. What I do know is that a massive online viewership on “day and date” would be a big thing for the film industry. First and foremost, it sends a message to whomever hacked Sony that attacking a film studio is not going to stop a film from being shown. That, in and of itself, is an important message to be sent and we can all send it by watching this film.

Sadly, The Interview is only available to be viewed/downloaded in the US today. This is from the website:

While we do hope to see the release of The Interview across the globe, for the time being this is limited to the USA only. You can only purchase the movie with a US card, and can only stream it from a US IP address.

That’s a bummer and highly relevant to what we discussed here yesterday. I’m going to use a VPN to spoof our IP so we can watch it today. But this whole geo blocking stuff is so annoying.

But there is something else important going on here. The theater operators have to date been very hostile to the idea that a film studio would put a film out directly to viewers over the Internet on the same “day and date” that the film is released in the theaters. If Sony has a massive online viewership of The Interview today, that could change the dynamic between the film studios and the theater industry. And that would also be a good thing.

So I’m going to figure out how to download and watch The Interview today. I hope everyone who cares about this stuff joins me. This could be a watershed moment for over the top online film distribution.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Matt Zagaja

    Merry Christmas Fred, and to all. A local theater is carrying The Interview but on Christmas it’s kind of nice to load it up on your own television and be with family. 🙂

  2. William Mougayar

    Curious which VPN tool are you using? I use Hola. Maybe if commenters listed what’s working for them, it would help others and save time finding the right one.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m looking for a suggestion. You suggest Hola?

      1. Gordon Swaby

        I’m based in Jamaica and I use Tunnel Bear. Very light weight and easy to use.

        1. fredwilson


          1. Nikolay Mihaylov

            I have been using various VPN solutions and must admit that Hola is the only one that has never let me down. All the rest are not 100% effective, thus you always need to switch. Too bad it is not available for Safari though.And yeah, I followed your advice and already watched The Interview today (in Europe). Good option for ignoring all these Christmas related movies out there been shown on TV.

          2. William Mougayar

            I once wasted 3-4 hours trying a whole bunch of these VPNs, maybe a dozen at least. And I settled on Hola. All the others had holes in them (except TunnelBear for the smartphone).

          3. kenberger

            see my other comment, just made. (thx for the tip, which i’ve added to).

        2. Donna Brewington White

          I’ve also been happy with TunnelBear. In fact will watch the Downton Abbey Christmas special today on if I can steal away. 🙂

        3. William Mougayar

          TunnelBear! Another fine Canadian startup. I use them on the smartphone, but found that it hides my Chromecast.

        4. Fernando Gutierrez

          I use two:-Unblock-us at home some any device uses it (changing dns in router). It works fine but you don’t chose where you connect from. It maintains a list of sites with geo restricitons and connects you from there just for those sites.-TorGuard in my laptop. It is more granular and lets me chose the server from which I connect manually. I also bought a fixed IP from them and I connect from that IP for certain things (servers set up to be accessed only from a specific list of IPs for security reasons)

      2. William Mougayar

        After trying several, I settled on Hola. It works, is simple & doesn’t cut off Chromecast (many VPNs will block your Chromecast, if you have one).

      3. Rohan

        Try Zenmate Fred. Free Chrome extension – works like a charm. My mom uses it in India –

      4. LE

        You don’t need a VPN. Another way would be to simply get a cheap VPS somewhere, ssh into it and use the proxy feature of your browser.

      5. kenberger

        I used Hola very successfully for this, in Greece, purchasing from Google Play.BUT NOTE! There is an important caveat: just turn on the browser extension to make the purchase, turn off the VPN once the movie plays or you’ll have an untenable lag. Or buy the film over the VPN’ed machine, and play on another non-VPN’ed device logged into the same account. The playing doesn’t check for IP, only the purchase does.I am just guessing that at least for this particular movie, Sony only cared about where and who (American cr card) the purchaser was, not where the content went. Once the sale was done, I was also able to play the film on other devices that had no VPN’s (also on the same Greek IP wifi network). Clearly Sony was just implementing a best efforts management decision that still meets their compliance guidelines.

      6. scottythebody

        I will check into Hola. Hadn’t tried it yet, but seems good. I’m happy with my current VPN, though. Also of interest and probably a bit cheaper are the DNS redirection services. A lot of the expat community here is migrating to these because the VPNs are getting detected by the content providers.I will ask around and see what is recommended. But if you aren’t so concerned with the privacy of the connection (which is what a VPN is actually for), then these cheaper DNS services might fit the bill for most “travelers”.

    2. Ro Gupta

      I switched from Tunnelbear to Hola, I think after I saw you mention it on AVC once. Been reliable – thanks for the rec

  3. LaMarEstaba

    I watched it with my sister and brother-in-law last night, since it was released yesterday. I will never get those 2 hours of my life back, but I had a lot of curiosity since it had been banned. Is location restricted?

  4. Humberto

    i tried a vpn (unblock-us) but unfortunately they are still blocking my Credit Card which is not north american.. i am trying hard to change the settings of youtube to US, but am not being able to (even creating a new account).there is not a world-wide web.

    1. fredwilson


    2. William Mougayar

      yep, you need to have a US account/credit card AND an US IP address.can you buy a Vanilla Master Card where you are and set it up as a US card? That’s what I do. I buy it from the drugstore (in Canada). I’m not sure where you are in the world.

      1. fredwilson

        “Restrictions teach you the workarounds”

        1. LE

          One of the reasons why people with street smarts and who have dealt with adversity can often mow over people who haven’t had the same experience. It teaches you to game the system and makes you think and be on your feet all the time and look for angles.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Works that way in life too.

      2. Humberto

        Portugal, UK and germany.. I ended up asking a CC from a friend, but it is pretty annoying.

  5. lonnylot

    I do not think going through a VPN is considered spoofing your IP. I think it is considered a proxy. Spoofing, to my understanding, is when you actually use a different IP address and apparently don’t expect any return data.

    1. fredwilson

      thanks for correcting me on that. i believe you are right

      1. LE

        I could argue that “spoofing” is an ok term to describe what you are doing.Follow this logic:1) Content provider doesn’t want content accessed by people out of the country. “the intent”.2) They didn’t say “no access by IP addresses out of the country”. That’s only a way they can enforce #1.So the intent is #1 not #2Here is “a” (meaning there are others) definition of IP spoofing:A technique used to gain unauthorized access to computers, whereby the intruder sends messages to a computer with an IP address indicating that the message is coming from a trusted host. Another definition says “hoax or trick”. So by using a proxy you have certainly “tricked” the system with the film into giving you access to the film. By appearing to be “a trusted host”. Same way we protect our admin system. By IP access.Now if you were not out of the country and they blocked you and you used a VPN or ssh’d into another system to gain access that would not be spoofing it would be a proxy.Make sense?

  6. JimHirshfield

    Merry Christmas to you, if you happen to have an IP address where Christmas is celebrated.Best wishes, Jim

  7. Jon Michael Miles

    The reasons I go to see movies in the theater, other than it’s a weekly date night with the better half, are 1) resolution and 2) the sense of an event. For me there is nothing like sitting in the theater with someone watching a great film. It is an agreement to not check your email, go to the kitchen and generally be mindful.VOD never delivers the experience a movie theater does. In a theater there is zero compression, the blacks are black, the stream is continuous. A movie on an ipad just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s like listening to music on bad ear buds.I wanted to see Grand Budapest Hotel in the theater, but it just didn’t make it to the DC suburbs for more than a nano-second. My only convenient option is VOD which will suffer from Verizon’s super horrible compression. So I’ll never see that movie at full resolution – not really – unless someone posts a 30 gig full HD torrent or I pop 19.99 for a Blu-ray.Many in the industry talk about pay windows, I see them as ‘resolution windows’ where the quality of my experience is limited to discreet times. A 4k television will help this, but that is such a First World solution.

    1. LE

      I don’t go to the theater practically at all. First if you are allergic to certain things you will for sure pick them up in the theater. (I do). Second I like to be able to freeze something and replay it and analyze it. And to discuss it with my wife. As I say to my wife when she falls asleep and we are watching something on TV or Netflix “I’m stopping this it’s no fun by yourself”. In a theater you can’t talk and you can’t stop action. So it’s usually a non starter.

  8. Joe Marchese

    Were it not for the attack on Sony, I would have paid no attention — and no money — for this film. Seth Rogen is best in small doses. But because we need to demonstrate that our values are indeed important to us, I’m planning to watch the film on YouTube. And I agree that this unexpected episode could be a watershed moment in the way content is distributed. Thx for propelling us forward, DPRK.Merry Christmas to all.

  9. vickykumar

    Merry Christmas

  10. FlavioGomes

    Merry Christmas Fred.

  11. Aaron Klein

    It sounds like the dumbest movie I’ve ever seen, so I will likely buy it, press play, hit mute and minimize the window.Anything for freedom! Merry Christmas, AVCers. 🙂

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Exactly what I was planning to do! Merry Christmas, Aaron!

    2. awaldstein

      Did the same.

    3. Fernando Gutierrez

      It would be fun and sad if in the end all this proved to be a publicity stunt by Sony to make the film more important that what it is by its own merits!

  12. Donna Brewington White

    Merry Christmas AVC! xoxo

  13. Tom Labus

    Merry Christmas to all AVCers. Family here today with smoked ham from Vermont and the menu. Enjoy your day!

    1. fredwilson


  14. Pranay Srinivasan

    Merry Christmas, Fred! I rented The Interview on Google Play, endured 57 minutes of it and then switched off.Thoughts:I love online releases. $5.99 to watch a brand new movie with The Wife is much cheaper than movie Tickets.Interestingly we went and watched The Gambler running in an AMC. It cost us $26 on Fandango for tix, $12 for popcorn and we had to walk to and from the theater.Both movies were underwhelming. but we sat thru the Gambler because we paid a lot for the tix (comparitively)Thanks,Pranay

  15. Todd Schnick

    View the film yesterday. Twas really funny actually. Worth watching, and sending a message…

  16. johnmccarthy

    Merry Christmas!

  17. Matt A. Myers

    Sony being hacked likely has nothing to do with The Interview and it’s a good way to distract attention away from the massive security breach that occurred – and for governments and those in power to leverage people’s misplaced anger towards their own biased goals.Surprised no mention of VHX, “INTERNET VIDEO DISTRIBUTION FOR EVERYONE” that USV is an investor in.Also, from what I read on Google’s blog, it’s available in Canada too; http://googleblog.blogspot….Happy holidays to everyone.

  18. SubstrateUndertow

    Wishing everyone a happy loving holiday season spiritually networking with friends and family.

  19. Ana Milicevic

    I’m going to take great pride in the fact that not even North Korea can get me to watch a movie that contains either Rogen or Franco. That said, it is exciting to see a same day digital and theatrical release for a major studio title. It’s been a viable strategy for indy and minor movies for a while now (remember Snowpiercer earlier this year?). I’m hoping to see more experimentation with price points for VOD rentals vs. making them available sooner (ideally at the same time as a theatrical release).Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to celebrate a holiday I don’t celebrate 🙂 Merry Christmas and a smashing day to you all!

    1. awaldstein

      I like that you are finding the positive in this. You think that it can drive change as it showed they can do it?Wonder as I bet the dollars back to studio and artist were significantly smaller.

      1. Ana Milicevic

        Yes – this could prove to be a good catalyst. Same day VOD will hopefully continue to gain traction for certain types of movies (e.g. within a certain non-blockbuster projected box office take). This would generally be a better fit for smaller, more niche releases vs. regular studio fare.I don’t expect studio spectacles to be on same day VOD any time soon but I would greatly welcome the option to watch, say, Nick Cave’s 20,000 days on Earth the day it came out (or soon thereafter) in exchange for pay-per-view event level money. I imagine this would bring forth many of the same challenges we saw with print publisher licensing when Amazon first disrupted books so there’s undoubtedly a lot to figure out on the business & contracting side. It seems logical to expect film distribution to be a major area of disruption over the next few years.

        1. awaldstein

          Yup–agree.A lot more complex that books but coming.Streaming video content on demand is one life’s true pleasures.

  20. Barabare

    I just watched the Interview, and it was pretty terrible. And I say that as a fan of James Franco and Seth Rogen, and as someone who thinks “This is the End” is a nearly perfect comedy.

  21. liftoffmusic

    Merry Christmas AVC! It is an interesting discussion regarding the ‘film industry’ vs. ‘movie theater industry.’ That could make a point to the industry and could change the dynamic. Another point to mention, on a micro-level there are still a few neighborhood theaters that are at risk of being extinct, and still holding on from the imminent “wrecking ball,” such as this particular one in Queens which is showing the film:…These family run theaters (although not many still exist), are important to communities, and maintain $7.50 prices. Therefore, supporting a small theater like this to see it is another idea – unless it is a pile of wreckage before one gets there!

  22. vruz

    Sony wants to censor Twitter, bully journalists into silence, and pay AGs to block websites. But free speech!…So simpleminded…Merry Christmas.

    1. ShanaC

      meanwhile. playstation games are down….

  23. LE

    First and foremost, it sends a message to whomever hacked Sony that attacking a film studio is not going to stop a film from being shown. That, in and of itself, is an important message to be sent and we can all send it by watching this film.I think when you are talking about mental instability you have to throw the normal behavioral rules out the window. This type of event isn’t a European ground war. We live in a time when people are willing to strap on a bomb to themselves for whatever goal they are trying to achieve. We are not talking about celebrities. The “streisand effect” [1] has no relevance here. Kim Jung Un is not “normal”. He is living in an alternate universe. If anything in his immature and mentally unstable [2] mind this would actually have the opposite effect. The only thing that works with people like that is to (as my dad used to say) “hit them over the head”. If everything were rational we wouldn’t have the mideast conflict. People would just sit down and talk it out. Good luck with that one.In his (KJU’s) mind it’s quite possible that he actually likes the attention this is garnering for him. Like some college freshman pulling a prank because he doesn’t fit in. You think he actually gives a shit what people think? He can easily, since he controls the media in his country, spin this anyway he wants. “Look at how important I am ..”.Now if we are talking hackers for the sake of hacking and not Kim Jung Un then the uproar will for sure create plenty of copycat attempts for the sake of attention and notoriety and bragging right (which it will do even if it was Kim Jung Un). I think this is an obvious and well known fact. Mentally unstable person wanting their 15 minutes of fame and to be patted on the back by seeing their handiwork featured in all media.[1]… [2] My guess is that you haven’t had much experience fighting a battle and/or trying to reason with someone who is mentally unstable. If you did you would see what a moving target of irrationality you are dealing with (I have on many occasions). Totally unpredictable and goes by a different set of rules.

  24. LE

    If Sony has a massive online viewership of The Interview today, that could change the dynamic between the film studios and the theater industry. And that would also be a good thing.Not really since in this case you are defying physics. You are taking a film with a huge and unprecedented PR and awareness advantage. It’s a total outlier. What happens with this really isn’t relevant.Theater release is important for many reasons (awards as only one, legacy legitimacy is another “the big screen”). [1] What happens here will certainly create a discussion but in the end the theaters have power and you know what? They should. It’s not trivial to own and operate a movie theater and show films. And that’s what business is about. We are not a socialist society. Theaters have a right to operate the way they do and you know if someone needs to wait 1 year to see a film I don’t think that’s anything to complain about. Find other entertainment. What entitlement. Not everyone can afford tickets to see a sports event and have a good seat or attend a broadway show. Both of which are way way way way more expensive than a movie ticket.[1] Like self publishing vs. being given distribution through a major publishing house. We can call it “what impresses your aunt”. Like being on “60 Minutes” vs. the local UHF station on Sunday afternoon public service show (I was on one of those back in college..)

  25. Ro Gupta

    Hm — kind of feels like that US only language was written in a wink wink way so people who are inclined to do so would go ahead and figure out a workaround. I usually don’t see them being so explicit about how they technically set up the geo restrictions.Or maybe thats just wishful reading into it..

  26. Twain Twain

    Wishing Fred and everyone at AVC bar and your families a “Happy Christmas!” and here’s to more great exchanges in 2015.

  27. davidnotik

    “This was a revolution ignited with nothing more than a camera and some questions. Questions that led a man that was once revered as a god among mortals to cry and shit his pants.” – I think this closing quote from The Interview so appropriately sums up the whole drama. I just watched the movie, and it was a lot of fun. I saw critics calling it a bad movie, and of course it’s bad, like any foolish, lighthearted, funny movie w/ Seth Rogen is supposed to be, regardless of inflated expectations. I’m not one for raunchy jokes, but overall this is bad done well, I think. It’s like these are critics who would never opine about stuff in this category but decided to given this whole drama, and they just come across as dry. What made the movie more enjoyable to me was they conveyed the essential truths of the North Korea story in a way that’s accessible to a wider audience than the geopolitically aware, and certainly so now that this fiasco brought about all this press. The nuclear threat, the tightly controlled image, the brainwashing, the pudgy dictator with his Western fancies, the starving masses – you don’t need to make this stuff up, as the reality of the reclusive hermit nation is plenty fodder for an interesting story. And that’s what’s most fun about all this – that the regime played right into it and confirmed how ridiculous they really are. Indeed, “with nothing more than a camera and some questions” this movie led a repressive regime to cry and hack and threaten. It won’t change the reality in North Korea, but it does spread awareness, prompt questions, and demonstrate to their leaders what we think of their nonsense. I’m just glad Dennis Rodman didn’t make a cameo.

  28. John Revay

    Merry Christmas to you and all of the Wilsons.Re: “We are spending it with family and friends on a beach in the caribbean”Please say hi to your friend John….we don’t know each other…however I enjoy watching him on MSNBC when he is on. I also plan to try and read his current book.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      I got Double Down for Christmas, very excited to read it.

      1. John Revay

        Yes – I also like Mark Halperin as well.Merry Christmas to you and your family and please enjoy reading.Regards,John

  29. marko calvo-cruz

    I wholeheartedly agree with this Fred. Just as Seth Godin, Brad Feld, and many others have worked hard to lead a change in the book publishing industry, perhaps the movie industry could use a change as well.

  30. Robert Holtz

    Merry Christmas, AVC!

  31. Tom Ryan

    Merry Christmas Fred! Love reading your blog/emails every day, appreciate and enjoy your insights. Thanks much.

  32. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Merry Christmas to everyone in the bar….have a great holiday with friends and family.

  33. pointsnfigures

    Merry Christmas from Istanbul. No chance of doing that here!

  34. JamesHRH

    Merry Christmas to all!!!!!

  35. Anonymous

    Fred – I believe Sony was wrong to release The Interview, and I believe you are wrong to encourage viewers to see it. Let me use an analogy to explain why.Lets say you lived next to a crazy old man, and that one fine day your kids leaned over the fence and yelled a mouthful of expletives at this man simply because they thought it would be funny. Would you defend their right to free speech, or would you be mortified and deeply apologetic to your neighbour, regardless of whatever your personal views on him might be? This is essentially where we stand today. Just because you can say something doesn’t mean that you should. And just because you have said something, doesn’t mean it should be defended.It’s pretty well established that KJU and North Korea don’t share the world’s sense of humour (or views on freedom of speech for that matter). So creating a comedy about assassinating KJU was a pretty asinine thing to do. Sure NK’s reaction was way over the top, but its also pretty much exactly what we might have expected him to do. So where in all this subsequent commentary is the fact that Sony made a really bad call in making this stupid movie?Seriously, isn’t there enough bad stuff happening in the world already – do we really need to get our laughs by provoking the crotchety guy with the nukes? Yet, instead of everyone (including President Obama) placating NK and telling Sony it’s got some serious decision-making problems, we’re all doing the opposite – we’re ganging up on NK even more, and rushing to defend Sony and help them make money from this folly. How does that make any sense?Oh and yeah, they hacked Sony and exposed their shitty emails. Big deal. Sony was the aggressor here and it went out of its way to earn that punch in the face. Plus Sony’s been hacked so many times recently, it’s probably part of the Anonymous onboarding program by now. And finally, if Sony wasn’t sending such slimy emails around to begin with, it probably wouldn’t have been such a big issue anyway. It certainly wasn’t nearly this big an issue when all their customer data got hacked and spread around the web!Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for defending free speech – but lets at least make it speech worth defending. Its not like we’re talking about an incisive documentary or expose here. We’re talking about basic, rude, frat humour at someone else’s expense. So lets not make this something its not – lets not make this about outrage, or rights, or oppression. It’s just about a very stupid decision from a company that appears to make quite a few of them. And this one bit them in the ass. End of story.

  36. Kevin OKeefe

    Merry Christmas to you, Gotham Gal and your family, Fred. I have learned a great deal from you and your community over the last year. Wish you continued success and good health in the new year.

  37. OldManGoldenwords

    I think it better to spend money on some charity than on Sony for their stupid & racially charged emails. Second band wagon of teaching North Korea of a lesson about free country is misplaced objective, as there is no proof or concusive evidence of who did this.

  38. LE

    Somehow it seems that if someone wants to make a stand for free speech that instead of taking 2.5 hours (portal to portal) and spending $10 for a movie ticket, or taking 2 hours online watching they could use that time in a more productive way. <— Do as I suggest not as I do.