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Christmas Box Office: Sellouts Reported for ‘The Interview’

Nearly all Christmas Day screenings of Sony’s “The Interview” have sold out at the 17 Alamo Drafthouse locations — an initial positive signal over the studio’s decision to go with independent theaters to release the political satire.

“We’re seeing filmgoers come out in droves,” Christian Parkes, chief branding officer for the Texas-based chain, told Variety.

Parkes also said that Alamo Drafthouse has started recording sellouts for the showings for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday screenings. The executive said that the massive publicity surrounding the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy and Sony Pictures Entertaiment has elevated awareness among customers to unprecedented levels.

“I can’t imagine what the people at Sony have been through,” he added. “But this is definitely the kind of publicity that you can’t buy. People were going to see the movie anyway but now they are telling us that they believe it’s their patriotic duty.”

Most of the Drafthouse sites are in Texas with four in Austin.

Sony has managed to secure releases for “The Interview” in about 300 theaters — about 10% of what it had originally planned before it withdrew the film on Dec. 17. Following a rebuke by President Obama, Sony responded to an aggressive move by the Art House Coalition — a group of indies that included Alamo Drafthouse — that were willing to play the movie despite a VOD release.

Major chains such as AMC, Regal and Carmike are refusing to book “The Interview” due to the VOD release, which launched Wednesday morning via YouTube, Google, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and its own website http://www.seetheinterview.com for $5.99. The chains have strongly opposed any simultaneous VOD release of a movie while it is playing in their theaters.

“The Interview,” which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as bumbling TV journalists persuaded by the CIA to assassinate the leader of North Korea, is coming into the market with mixed reviews. It has a 52% “fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomatoes aggregator site — but the curiosity factor has probably been elevated due to the barrage of recent news coverage.

 

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