“The Interview” was illegally downloaded hundreds of thousands of times on Christmas Day.

The film saw an estimated 750,000 illegal downloads over 20 hours, according to copyright blog TorrentFreak.

{mosads}The downloads apparently came, in part, from those exploiting protocol from BitTorrent, a company whose technology has often been used by those uploading and downloading pirated content such as TV shows and movies.

BitTorrent had offered Sony the opportunity to host the controversial film using its paid self-publishing platform. A company spokesman told The Hollywood Reporter last week that streaming the controversial comedy on BitTorrent was “the very best way for Sony to take back control of their film.”

After hackers threatened 9/11-style attacks on theaters, major chains refused to screen the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy, leading Sony Pictures to cancel the planned Christmas Day release.

The studio relented after pressure from lawmakers and the public. It agreed to stream the video digitally beginning Christmas Eve on YouTube, Google Play, Xbox Live and a site Sony set up, with consumers able to rent the film for $6 or buy it for $15.

In addition, the movie opened in approximately 300 individual theaters on Christmas Day. According to reports, theaters were packed, with the movie grossing $1 million in Christmas Day box office receipts.

The film involves a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In retribution for the film, hackers linked to North Korea targeted Sony in one of the largest cyberattacks in history, releasing troves of stolen data and emails online.

This story was updated at 6:37 p.m., to acknowledge a distinction between BitTorrent protocol and the BitTorrent network.

Tags The Interview

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