It turns out the film that was never meant to be, but still ended up being, has turned into something of an earner for Sony Pictures.
Sony released a financial statement earlier today detailing sales figures for the controversial Seth Rogen and James Franco buddy comedy ‘The Interview,’ and it appears the studio may be on track to recoup a significant portion of the film’s $44 million production budget.
According to CNN Money ‘The Interview’ earned $31 million in online revenue after approximately 4.3 million people rented or purchased the film through online outlets since its release on Christmas Eve.
Perhaps for the first time for any big-budget Hollywood flick, online revenue completely eclipsed the film’s physical sales of just $5 million in the box office.
The film’s disappointing take at the box office appear to have been largely driven by major theater chains such as AMC, who refused to show the film after Sony announced their plan to simultaneously release the film to the internet at the same time. The last-minute nature of Sony’s decision to reverse the cancellation of the film’s release would also have been a contributing factor by limiting the number of theaters that could show the film.
On December 18, Sony cancelled the release of ‘The Interview’ after their partners became concerned by threats of terrorism originating from a group believed to be associated with the hacker group that compromised Sony’s computer systems just a few weeks earlier. The cancellation set off a firestorm of discussion about freedom of speech and chilling effect in Hollywood to the point that even President Obama was forced to weigh in and personally encourage the film’s release.
More than 3,000 theaters were going to show the film on release day before the threats were made. When Sony reversed their cancellation, just 300 were on board with the feature’s screening.
Even with disappointing box office sales, ‘The Interview’ remains a record-breaking film. Testament to the extent of the hype surrounding the film, the movie pulled in $15 million online in the first four days of its release alone; making it Sony’s best-selling online film of all time.