‘The Interview’ Online, VOD Sales Reach $31 Million

The Interview” has made $31 million in online and video-on-demand revenues through its first week and a half of release, Sony Pictures Entertainment reported on Tuesday.

In addition, the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy has generated more than $5 million in limited theatrical release. That’s a combined total of $36 million for a film that cost roughly $75 million to produce and market.

The studio previously announced that “The Interview” made $15 million in its first four days of release with only a fraction of the number of distributors, so the new numbers indicate that sales and rentals have slowed as the controversy surrounding the film has died down. These latest figures are as of Jan. 4.

The film about a hapless TV host tasked with assassinating Kim Jong-un was originally intended to be released on roughly 3,000 screens on Christmas Day. It was expected to generate $20 million during its opening.

However, the gory subject matter likely inspired a cyberattack from North Korea that brought Sony to its knees. After hackers evoked 9/11 and threatened violence, a theatrical release was briefly scuttled before Sony backtracked and lined up hundreds of arthouse and independent theaters willing to show the film. Its decision to release the film simultaneously on-demand and theatrically infuriated major exhibitors, which refused to show the picture on their screens.

Initially, the film was available only on YouTube, Google Play and Microsoft Xbox. Apple and its iTunes platform joined the fray after the film had been in release for five days. Last week the list of providers expanded to include cable, telco and satellite companies — a contingent that includes Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV; Verizon FiOS, Cablevision and Dish.

In its second week of theatrical release, “The Interview” expanded from 331 to 558 venues.

It’s not clear what the financial terms are between Sony and the various distributors. Theatrical revenues are typically an even split between studios and exhibitors.

Sony’s decision to make its on-demand and digital sales figures public provides a rare glimpse at home entertainment revenues. Those finances are typically kept private. Only a handful of arthouse and independent releases have reached these kind of levels, such as “Snowpiercer” ($8.2 million), “Arbitrage” ($14 million) and “Bachelorette” ($8.2 million).

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