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Sony’s 'Interview' Tops $31 Million in Digital Revenue

6 Jan, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Controversial comedy has sold another $5 million in movie tickets since Christmas Day debut

Sony Pictures Jan. 6 announced ‘R’-rated comedy The Interview generated more than $31 million in digital revenue since its Dec. 24 launch on transactional VOD and digital sellthrough — becoming the studio’s top-selling digital title ever. It has been rented or purchased online and through cable, satellite, and telecom providers more than 4.3 million times.

The Interview has sold another $5 million in movie tickets since a Christmas Day theatrical debut. The movie had a production cost of $44 million.

The controversial comedy about a goofball interview-turned-assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jung-un resulted in Sony Pictures being subjected to a pre-Thanksgiving cyber attack by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace.

Sony pulled the movie from a planned nationwide Christmas theatrical launch after hackers threatened to harm moviegoers. The studio subsequently released the film to 301 independent theaters and online via Google Play, YouTube Movies, iTunes, Xbox Video and a proprietary website.

The Interview generated $15 million in digital revenue its opening weekend with rentals priced at $5.99 and $14.99 for sellthrough. Theatrical revenue topped $3 million. Sony then expanded theatrical screens to 580 and digital distribution across most cable, satellite and telecom operators, in addition to online platforms such as Walmart’s Vudu.com.

While the film’s digital success suggests studios may re-evaluate the traditional three-month box office window, Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter doesn’t think studios will take the bait.

“I don’t see day-and-date releases happening anytime soon,” Pachter said. “The studios need theatrical exhibition to drive buzz, and they won’t screw up their relationship in order to earn modestly more with day-and-date distribution. More likely, they will shrink the three-month window to 10 weeks.”

Regardless, Pachter contends Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release The Interview on DVD in the coming months.

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