The Interview has made over $15 mill, is top grossing online film for Sony

Los Angeles premiere of 'The Interview'
As you know, a traditional wide theater release of the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy, The Interview, was originally scheduled for Christmas day. Movie chains refused to show the film after hackers threatened 9/11 type attacks on any theaters screening the movie. The threats were not deemed credible by the US government, but the movie was canceled anyway.

All of this of course followed the hacking of Sony’s email system and the release of company emails which made several Sony executives look like petty a-holes. The hacking was reportedly tied to North Korea as retaliation against a comedy depicting the assassination of their dear leader. Tech experts believe it was an inside operation with help from a hacking group, however. (It’s thought to be the same group taking credit for the Playstation and XBox outages.) Also, North Korea’s internet access has been cut off three times in the past week.

While The Interview only received a limited release in about 330 independent theaters, it did surprisingly well and earned a respectable $2.8 million over the weekend. (The Hobbit was top at a busy Christmas weekend box office with Unbroken in second.) What’s more is that The Interview was released for on-demand rental or purchase on Google Play, YouTube, XBox and its own website. It made $15 million as of Saturday on those platforms alone. That’s not counting iTunes sales, as it wasn’t available on iTunes until Sunday. Plus it’s not offered as a VOD rental through any cable companies yet. Variety has some details. The Interview is now the top grossing online film for Sony. It’s possibly the top grossing online film of all time, but we don’t always know the VOD numbers for films.

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 $7 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.

[From Variety]

To celebrate the film’s release, Rogen and Franco live-tweeted it on Sunday. Rogen also issued a statement thanking people for going to see the film. He said “I’m so grateful that the movie found its way into theaters, and I’m thrilled that people actually went out and saw it. The fact that people actually left their houses when they had the option of staying home is amazing.

Sony has done a good job marketing The Interview, although their word of mouth of course benefitted heavily from the hacking scandal. Prior to this I didn’t even realize you could rent movies from YouTube and that service was launched in 2010. This kind of raunchy comedy is ideal for an online release and I hope that it makes some money for Sony. This whole debacle might just change the way major studios release films.

I’ll probably rent this soon. I loved This is The End although The Interview isn’t doing as well with critics.

Did you see James Franco and Seth Rogen’s Christmas card? It’s been out for a while but I just saw it recently. It’s sorta NSFW and that image will get burned into your brain. I can’t decide if that’s a bad thing.



Los Angeles premiere of 'The Interview'

Photos credit: Sony/Columbia pictures and

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38 Responses to “The Interview has made over $15 mill, is top grossing online film for Sony”

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  1. EM says:

    It has a way to go before breaking even. Then there are the lawsuits against Sony to factor in. All up a costly film.

  2. Belle Epoch says:

    The controversy was the best possible thing that could ever have happened to this movie. People went to see it in movie theaters just to show you can’t push around Amurcans.

    Thank you for calling it a “raunchy comedy” instead of a “parody” or a “satire.” People tried to elevate the movie to great art that was being censored. It will forever be a piss poor movie idea and I hope SONY is not going to reward us with more like it. Maybe Adam Sandler will try to take out Putin.

    • Louise177 says:

      I was going to say the same thing. This looked like a really bad movie. It probably made more because of the scandal than if it had a real release.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I agree. I have mixed feelings. I’m glad the hackers didn’t win or get what they wanted, but I’m not glad that such drek has been successful. Sort of a wash.

      • StormsMama says:

        I watched it last night via iTunes and I thought it was hilarious and smart. Yes it was also raunchy. But it surprised me in good ways. And overall – despite my usual dislike for Franco- I came away liking Franco and loving Rogen more than I did. And— loving the movie. It’ll go down as a classic.
        Raunchy yes. But hilarious and smart too.

      • dromedary says:

        I had really low expectations for the movie, but my husband put it on, and I found myself laughing a lot. I enjoyed it and would watch it again.

  3. lower-case deb says:

    you can rent on Youtube? wow. that’s news to me too.
    this past month, i’ve been reading up on Youtube artist phenomenon, and so exciting to learn about other platforms available for people today. my son is starting a variety-show type group with his friends from school and they’re going the Youtube route, maybe next year. it’s interesting to hear him talk about it, even though i don’t understand half of it. somewhere in his ‘marketing spiel’ he said that kids his age are not as interested in the “Got Talent” shows anymore. there’s an equal chance to get as famous through Youtube, and even reach an international audience quicker.
    (of course the “Got Talent” shows are still popular).

    what an amazing concept.

  4. Sixer says:

    No, thank you.

    Whatever the truth of what’s gone on, I’m declaring myself out of it, thankyouverymuch. What an unedifying spectacle it’s been, from all concerned.

    I’m better than this ridiculous propaganda film. I’m better than international hacking. I’m better than spycraft between nations. I’m better than jingoism. So whichever it is, I’m out.

    I’m serious. I think the world would be a better place if all parties buggered off to obscurity, after having been denied the oxygen of publicity.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Yes, it’s hard to sympathize with any of the players in this cluster f.

    • Lahdidahbaby says:

      Amen, Sixer, and well said. Franco is an arrogant jackass, and the movie premise was beyond irresponsible. A comedy about the assassination of ANY living, sitting head of state – even an evil d*ckhead like Kim Jong Un – is just morally bankrupt as far as I’m concerned. James should take his puerile bullsh*t “comedy” taste along with his poseur poetry and novels and go home.

      • tifzlan says:

        I completely agree. I doubt the US would take too kindly if some filmmakers in Pakistan or Russia produced a film depicting the assassination of President Obama. I understand freedom of speech, but there are consequences to having freedom and not everyone is going to like what is being said.

      • jwoolman says:

        Yes. I can’t believe nobody ever considered how wrong it was to use a real country and person as their target and that nobody suggested just making up a country for it. I lived through an aassassination of one President and the attempt on another. Even though I felt Reagan was an awful President who was responsible for massive deaths, erosion of our freedoms and destruction of our economy and many illegal activities- I didn’t want him to die in reality or some stupid movie for laughs.

      • LolaBones says:

        @Lahdidahbaby Just a question… Why is James taking all the sh*t if Seth was the one who wrote, produced, and directed the movie? Franco just showed up to film with his buddy.

      • lucy2 says:

        The premise bothers me as well – if you want to do a story like that, make it a fictional character. There’s something wrong with making it about a real person, no matter how horrible that person is. I’m glad they decided to show it and not give in to threats, but I have no desire to watch it myself.

      • dromedary says:

        So then, do you all believe Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” was morally bankrupt too? That was in Hitler and Mussolini’s lifetime.

      • tifzlan says:

        @Dromedary There is a difference between depicting the assassination of an exaggerated, invented character that is very obviously based on someone (aka a parody or satire) and a real, living person.

      • dromedary says:

        @tifzlan It was an *obvious* parody of very specific people, with the names Adenoid Hynkel and Benzino Napaloni. So does that mean if they named the character, say, Kim Ji Youn and called the country “The Republic” it would have all been fine? Is that where the line is? Or are we only allowed to parody people after they’re dead?

      • Lucy2 says:

        I think parody, even an “obvious parody”, is still better than a real, living person when the subject is assassination.

      • dromedary says:

        @tifzlan @Lucy2 When someone in North Korea commits even the tiniest infraction, THREE GENERATIONS OF THAT FAMILY are sent to political detention camps FOR LIFE. Between 100-200,000 people live in these camps under inhuman conditions. Children are forced into slave labor and tortured in these camps too. That, to me, makes the government and dictator-du-jour of North Korea fair game for any type of satire as far as I’m concerned. Read the account from Shin Dong-hyuk, a man who was born at Gulag #14 and escaped at age 23. So indoctrinated by age 2 or 3, he reported on his mother and brother after overhearing them discuss an escape plan… and was happy to see them executed. Read the book of first-hand accounts, “Nothing to Envy”. Then there’s the people who were publicly executed recently for watching foreign movies. Don’t kid yourselves, the human rights abuses of North Korea are beyond horrific. Kim Jong Un deserves zero sympathy no matter how real a person he is. The innocent people his regime murders daily get no sympathy from him.

      • melodycalder says:

        Oh my lord… The movie is not a depiction of an assassination. They go there planning to do it and Franco changes his mind. They end up humiliating him on live tv instead and then he dies in the aftermath.

        This is a horrible disgusting person with no regards for anyone but himself, why are you giving him more “respect” than most of you show our previous president bush? Smh

    • captain says:

      I like what you say. Myself, I must admit, I really enjoyed the hacking thingy. It generated such an amazing gossip, I couldn’t help it and was looking forward to more emails…
      The rest of it is just what you say from my point of view as well.

  5. scout says:

    Never planned to see this trash before, not going to watch now even if it’s free! I don’t enjoy these kind of movies to waste my time and money anyway, so NO…

  6. evie says:

    We watched it this weekend and found parts of it very funny. I’m a big fan of Pineapple Express and This is the End, too. The Interview wasn’t nearly as over the top as This is the End and I was surprised by that, given the controversy beforehand. It’s a decent movie, not a kneeslapper all the way through, but there are plenty of quotes from it that we were throwing around all weekend.

  7. Beth says:

    This is so stupid.

  8. lisa2 says:

    They are making such a big deal over the money this movie made. Problem is it cost Sony more to pull it then renegotiate to get it in a few theaters not to mention the other deals. Sony is going to be in the RED on this film no matter how they PR it into being a success.

    I won’t be seeing it. Not because of anything other than I was not going to see it in the first place.

    I did like This is the End.. but I saw that on a free movie weekend.

    • lucy2 says:

      I agree, they are never going to make a penny on this. I think all the hoopla over what it’s making is to appease the Sony stockholders (look, we didn’t just lose $75 million!) and to try to paint it as a triumph over the threats. Eh. I’m guessing the insurance company refused to cough up the full amount to cover it so they decided to release it and get what they could.

  9. Tippy says:

    By capitulating to terrorism, major theatre chains have made a potentially fatal mistake. Terrorists now realize that they can dictate whatever they want people to view in theaters simply by issuing threats of 9/11 type attacks.

    The simultaneous release of movies on the internet and elsewhere will soon become the wave of the future and will have a devastating effect on box office revenues.

    • jwoolman says:

      They have to think about the effect of any scare on the box office. People have died in movie theaters from homegrown terrorists. They depend on this season to make a profit. There were always other ways to show the movie that wouldn’t interfere with the holiday movie offerings..

      Someone elsewhere was saying they really would like to see the look on families’ faces who sat down to view this movie as their patriotic duty… Wonder how many switched it off well before the end? If you watch a movie you really weren’t interested in just because some dimbulb tells you not to and people are fulminating about terrorists, then you are being controlled. You can support their right to make and show a gross film without actually paying them to do it.

    • jane16 says:

      Tippy, very good points.

  10. L says:

    Yea so I rented this over the holiday weekend and between the raunch and violence and horrible storyline, I could actually feel myself getting stupider. It was the only movie that my Fox News watching family, and liberal family members could agree to watch. And it was unanimous-this movie is absurd. But nothing like watching penis jokes with grandma. *sigh*

  11. GingerCrunch says:

    Nobody puts Franco in a corner!

  12. Miss Gloss says:

    God, James Franco is gross. He really needs to wash his face and whiten his teeth.

  13. amp122076 says:

    What’s the chance the Sony hack was guerrilla marketing for this film? It’s certainly done better I’m sure than it normally would have.

  14. Kip says:

    I’m not going to ever be able to sit through this crap, but I’m curious as to what people thought of the portrayal of Asian characters in the movie. I expect not good…tired stereotypes?

  15. Toru says:

    Who cares about Franco anyway? Love Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

  16. solanaceae (Nighty) says:

    I’m watching it right now…Not my type of movie, but they also make fun of the American government/CIA,the “journalists” and the Americans in general and their taste in programmes… Not just the Korean leader…

  17. Dorky says:

    Oh my god, Franco’s teeth – and gums – are NASTY!!!

  18. Str8Shooter says:

    I can’t help it. Every time I see photos of these two Douche-nozzles, I just want to smash my tablet.