The Interview on Netflix from 24 January
Sony Pictures controversial film The Interview will begin streaming on Netflix in the US and Canada from 24 JanuaryReuters

It was the film they didn't want you to see (apparently) but The Interview, which has already become Sony's most successful online release ever, will get an even wider audience when it begins streaming on Netflix from this Saturday, 24 January.

Netflix announced the move in an investor letter as it announced record fourth quarter earnings. Initially the Seth Rogen and James Franco film will only be available to Netflix subscribers in the US and Canada.

Netflix has not said if or when it would come to territories outside the US and Canada.

The film, which has been widely panned by critics, was at the centre of a devastating cyber-attack against Sony Pictures in December, culminating in the hackers warning Sony not to release the film, which is a spoof comedy about an assassination plot to kill North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

The film was initially pulled from cinemas around the world following threats of violence against cinema owners who showed it, but it was since had a limited theatrical release as well as being widely available online.

The film is available on a large variety of platforms including Google Play, YouTube, Xbox Video and iTunes, as well as on cable, satellite, and telecom providers. Sony is preparing to release a "Freedom Edition" DVD and Blu-ray in the US from next month.

"Sony's number 1 online film ever"

As Netflix announced it was going to carry the film, Sony announced The Interview had so far generated $40 million (£26.4m) in revenue from the various online stores, with an additional $6m from cinemas. This makes it Sony's biggest online film ever.

The film had a production budget of $44m, however it is also reported to have had a $20m advertising budget. Add to this the fact Sony had to split the revenue from rentals and ticket sales with the distributors, the studio still has a way to go before recouping all its costs.

However, the huge amount of media attention the film got as a result of the Sony Pictures attack has given what is ostensibly a terrible film, a much wider audience, with some watching it as some form of protest against the supposed perpetrators of the attack North Korea.

Netflix announced the deal to show The Interview as it announced it s fourth quarter results for 2014, when it added 4.3 million new subscribers, which was its largest quarterly increase ever.

CEO Reed Hastings said the company's international expansion had gone better than expected and said it would be complete by 2017. The next territory Netflix is focusing on is China, with the company planning to borrow $1bn to help finance the move.