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Analyst: 'The Interview' Unlikely to Scuttle Theatrical Release Window

30 Dec, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Sony Pictures Entertainment’s record success selling and renting digital copies of controversial comedy The Interview is unlikely to persuade it and other studios to release future movies day-and-date theatrically and online, according to an analyst.

The $44 million budget ‘R’-rated buddy film from Seth Rogen and co-starring James Franco — about an interview-turned-assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jung-un — has generated more than $15 million in digital revenue since Christmas Eve on top of more than $2.8 million across 301 independent theatrical screens since Christmas Day.

The unusual availability of a big-budget studio movie theatrically and online was due to an unprecedented month-long cyber hack at Sony Pictures — and officially linked by the FBI to North Korea. A planned nationwide Christmas Day release on more than 3,000 screens was scrapped when four of the nation’s largest theater operators pulled the film after a group calling itself Guardians of Peace threatened harm to moviegoers.

That confluence of events is expected to help hasten narrowing — not abandoning — the current three-month theatrical release window, says Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter.

The analyst, who contends Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release The Interview on DVD in 2015, doubts day-and-date theatrical/digital movies would happen anytime soon.

Pachter said exhibitors have a lot of leverage over studios, which need theatrical to drive buzz on a movie.

“[Studios] won’t screw up their relationship [with theater operators] in order to earn modestly more with day-and-date distribution,” he said. “More likely, they will shrink the three-month window to 10 weeks.”

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