'The Interview' Is Already Sony's Biggest Digital Release of All Time

Monday, 29 December 2014 10:27 Written by  iamrogue
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'The Interview' Is Already Sony's Biggest Digital Release of All Time

What a difference a week can make.

A week ago, we didn't knew when or even if we'd ever see The Interview.  Now it has collected about $18 million total and proven that old adage about good publicity and bad publicity.

Turns out being at the center of an international incident, enduring threats of terrorism, and having a theatrical release sliced down to almost nothing doesn't need to hurt box office too much, provided there's enough controversy and curiosity.

As you're no doubt aware, The Interview has been right at the heart of an unprecedented shitstorm at Sony Pictures, which has been subject of a damaging and embarrassinghack by North Korea.  After a vague, not-so-credible threat against any theater showing Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's comedy as scheduled on Christmas Day, Sony completely scuttled the release.

But then, last Tuesday, Sony agreed to release the silly comedy in hundreds of independent theaters across the country as well as various online platforms for rental and purchase on the very same day.

Two million people then promptly watched The Interview online legally, translating to more than $15 million in earnings from digital sales and rentals.

That figure comes from Saturday, before the movie, hit iTunes, where it will presumably make hay.  Even without iTunes, the film already ranks as Sony's biggest online release in its history.

Add to that the $2.85 million that The Interview made at 331 theaters from Thursday to Sunday and the film is pretty close to the $20 million that some box office prognosticators prognosticated The Interview would have made if Sony had proceeded with a traditional release.  That, however, is counterfactual history, and we'll simply never know how the movie would have fared had that happened.

On the surface, this would seem to be a big moment for the future of simultaneous theatrical and online releases, but it's important to keep in mind that The Interview is an anomaly, a case entirely unto itself.  Even your average controversial movie doesn't kick off cyber-war revelations and global discussion, after all.  What's more important here is that threats of violence didn't have the desired effect: anybody who wants to see The Interview can do just that.

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