For those more interested in gift receipts than box-office receipts over the holiday: “The Interview” did not come away with the biggest post-Christmas take.
That honor belonged to “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” which earned more than $40 million — just about the budget of the “The Interview” — in its second week in theaters, according to BoxOfficeMojo estimates. In its limited release over the long holiday weekend, moviegoers paid just $2.9 million to see the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy that became an international incident.
But after earning $15 million in online revenues — by Saturday — “The Interview” appears to have legs. The movie was rented or purchased more than 2 million times via Internet or other platforms. And though Sony won’t get paid for them, the film was also illegally downloaded 750,000 times on Christmas Day.
The company was not shy in a press release: “After only four days, ‘The Interview’ already ranks as Sony Pictures #1 online film of all time,” it reported.
This is, technically, a disappointment. Reuters reported the film was expected to earn at least $20 million in a typical release before terrorism threats derailed it.
But as online platforms line up to distribute “The Interview,” it seems ever more likely the movie will make up its budget — and then some. YouTube, Google Play and Microsoft Xbox offered the movie on Christmas Day — to rent for $5.99 or to purchase for $14.99, as Variety reported. Now iTunes has the movie as well, and Sony is reportedly talking to Netflix.
“The audience reaction was fantastic,” Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution at Sony, said in a statement Friday.
Though key to Sony’s strategy with a film, independent theater operators were upset by Sony’s streaming plans for the “The Interview.”
So was at least one Cincinnati scalper.
“I saw all the hype about ‘The Interview’ on the 23rd and thought, ‘Hey, folks are selling these tickets in other cities and it seems like that’s the thing to do right now so why not give it a shot so see how it goes,’” Jason Best told WCPO. He spent $650 on 50 tickets at the Esquire Theater — $13 each — planning to sell them for more.
Once “The Interview” came out on-demand and online, this proved to be a failed investment opportunity — so Best tried to return them.
“I thought I’d get my money back because the theater’s website *very clearly* said the tickets were refundable,” Best wrote in an email to WCPO.
Because Best was a would-be scalper, the theater denied him a refund “on principle,” according to WCPO — but offered to donate the $650 to charity.
In the Kansas City area, the movie is showing at the Alamo Drafthouse, Blue Springs, Cinetopia, Pharaoh and Screenland Armour theaters.