Unless they're going straight to video, movies always open first in theaters to maximize the box office revenue -- and then they're made available in other stages of home video, streaming and television.
But not this time. Today's release of "The Interview" in theaters comes a day after it was made available for purchase and for one-time streaming online, through several digital platforms -- including Google Play, YouTube Movies and Microsoft's Xbox Video.
It's a unique situation -- prompted by the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and the threat of terrorism against theaters showing the movie. Sony initially canceled today's rollout, before reversing course.
But experts say the release will be closely watched within the industry, to see how moviegoers and theater chains react to the simultaneous debut -- in theaters and online.
Analyst Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations says the move makes sense for this film "because of the saga that goes along with it." But he says it doesn't necessarily represent the future of movie releases.
He adds, though, that it's "nice to have a film we can actually use as a guinea pig for video-on-demand release."