‘The Interview’ Makes Over $15 Million In Online Sales And Rentals

The Interview from Sony Pictures has generated over $15 million in revenue from online rentals and purchases through Saturday. Film industry trade magazine Variety is reporting that the action comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogen has only earned $3 million from a limited release in theaters, and over $15 million from two million purchases or downloads.

The VOD gross is very close to the $20 million Sony Pictures had hoped to generate during the originally planned opening weekend at around 3,000 screens on Christmas Day. The film, which depicts Franco as a clueless TV host recruited by the U.S. government to assassinate Kim Jong Un, who is a big fan of Franco’s character.

The controversial subject matter of the film brought about a cyber attack on Sony Pictures that is still being pieced together. In the hacking of Sony Pictures, embarrassing emails were released from senior executives, cast salaries were leaked, and other information that would damage Sony Pictures’ reputation made the rounds online. The attack eventually lead the studio to pull the film from its intended distribution.

The Interview is already a film with significant importance both culturally and politically. It marked the first major digital “terrorist” attack against a specific corporation, leading to a very public retraction that earned the ire of the President of the United States, as the Inquisitr has written elsewhere. The Interview is also becoming a touchstone for studios who are closely watching the performance of the film, as it is one of the first high-profile films to be released both in theaters and video on demand on the same day.

In only four days, The Interview is now Sony Pictures’ highest-grossing online release of all time. Other large-budget on-demand movies have been eclipsed by The Interview such as Snowpiercer, Arbitrage, and Bachelorette, which earned $7 million, $14 million, and $8.2 million, respectively.

Theatrically, the Verge noted that there are extenuating circumstances surrounding the theatrical release. Only two theaters confirmed screenings originally: Alamo Drafthouse and Plaza Atlanta. Other theaters came on board with a target of 200 to 300 screens total.

Of course, $15 million is not an insignificant number. The film’s budget was roughly $75 million for production and marketing, which is higher than other films that have used a theatrical and VOD strategy, as Variety noted.

YouTube, Google Play, and Xbox have carried the movie since Christmas Eve, and iTunes began offering the film on Sunday. The Interview currently rents for $5.99 in HD and sells $14.99 in HD. Netflix is in talks with Sony Pictures to obtain streaming rights for the film, though no further information was available at the time of writing.

[Image Source | Sony Pictures]