×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sony: ‘The Interview’ Has Made Over $15 Million Online

“The Interview” is shaping up to be a groundbreaking VOD success, earning $15 million online through Saturday.

The comedy, which has earned nearly $3 million in theaters, was rented or downloaded over 2 million times since hitting the Internet on Wednesday, Sony disclosed. It was never supposed to be this way.

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 cyber-attack 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 331 arthouse and independent theaters willing to show the film. Its decision to release the film simultaneously on-demand and theatrically infuriated major exhibitors who refused to show the picture on their screens.

Overhauling the film’s rollout required the input of its theatrical distribution team, as well as its home entertainment staff.

“We worked hard to get the film out there by Christmas Day,” Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures president of worldwide distribution, told Variety on Sunday morning. “It was such a whirlwind to get it done that it kind of amazes me that we were able to make it happen.”

In this case, controversy paid off. After four days, “The Interview” ranks as Sony Pictures’ highest-grossing online release of all time. It also outstrips recent VOD successes such as “Snowpiercer,” which earned $8.2 million on demand, as well as “Arbitrage” ($14 million) and “Bachelorette” ($8.2 million). Sony’s decision to provide numbers for “The Interview’s” VOD sales and rentals give rare insight into the home entertainment results of a major film release, figures that usually remain shrouded in secrecy.

Sony did not disclose the financial terms of its deals with online distributors, but in the past they have been more favorable than the revenue split studios share with theater chains. During a theatrical release, ticket sales are usually evenly divided, but digital release tend to favor the studios behind the films.

“The Interview” will depend heavily on its on-demand grosses. The R-rated comedy cost roughly $75 million to produce and market — far more than most films that employ a simultaneous theatrical and on-demand strategy.

The film has been available on YouTube, Google Play and Microsoft Xbox since Christmas Eve, as well as a site set up specifically to show the film. Google Play and Google-owned YouTube are responsible for the bulk of the film’s $15 million total, according to an individual with knowledge.

Apple’s iTunes began offering the film on Sunday, after the digital numbers were tallied. The movie rents for $5.99 and sells for $14.99. Unlike “Snowpiercer” or other VOD hits, “The Interview” is not available for sale or rental on DirecTV or other cable providers.

Netflix is in talks to secure “The Interview,” but no deal has been struck yet.

Todd Spangler contributed to this report.

More Film

  • Gone With the Wind Screening

    Film News Roundup: 'Gone With the Wind' Sets Event Cinema Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Gone with the Wind” sets a new record, “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” is acquired, and Tracy Oliver signs with Topic Studios. EVENT CINEMA RECORD The 80th anniversary release of “Gone with the Wind” has grossed $2.23 million in six nationwide screenings on four dates — a record as the [...]

  • Made in Abyss - Journey’s Dawn

    Film Review: ‘Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn’

    It’s a Herculean effort to take a multi-volume manga like author Akihito Tsukushi’s “Made in Abyss,” adapt it into a popular anime television series, and then compress the show into a coherent feature (technically, two movies), but the folks at Sentai Filmworks have done just that. Part one, “Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn,” will screen [...]

  • HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market

    HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market Winners

    Eighteen prizes were presented on Wednesday afternoon at the closing ceremony of the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum. The project market sits alongside FilMart as part of the Entertainment Expo in Hong Kong. “Wong Tai Sin Assassination” to be directed by Wong Hoi and produced by Derek Kwok Tsz-kin, was named the winner of [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild Makes Concession on Film Financing in Agent Talks

    The Writers Guild of America has made a concession in film financing in its negotiations with Hollywood talent agents — the second in six weeks of talks. WGA West executive director David Young said Wednesday that it had made a “significant move” toward reaching a deal with the Association of Talent Agents for a revamped [...]

  • Noah Centineo He-Man

    Noah Centineo to Play He-Man in 'Masters of the Universe' Reboot

    From a boy (who’s loved) to He-Man. Noah Centineo is in talks to take on the superhero in Sony Pictures and Mattel Films’ “Masters of the Universe.” Brothers Adam and Aaron Nee are directing the reboot. Mattel Films is partnering with Sony on the movie, which is based on Mattel’s beloved toy line that spawned [...]

  • Disney Fox Takeover Placeholder

    Disney, Fox Employees Grapple With Day One Transition on Two Hollywood Lots

    What kind of a boss will Disney be? That’s a question facing employees at 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, National Geographic Partners, FX Networks, and other assorted parts of Rupert Murdoch’s former media empire. Wednesday was their first full day as staffers of the Walt Disney Co. and the initial moves have done little to [...]

  • Derek Tsang Hong Kong actor Derek

    'Better Days' Director Derek Tsang Lands in World Cinema Spotlight

    Hong Kong actor-director Derek Kwok-cheung Tsang has recently found himself in the spotlight of the world of cinema, but for the wrong reason. Tsang will be joining a Hong Kong filmmakers panel at FilMart on Thursday with Sunny Chan (“Man on the Dragon”) and Pang Ho-cheung (“Love in a Puff”). The 39-year-old filmmaker was expecting [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content