Although some large cinema chains refused to show The Interview by Sony Pictures Entertainment due to threats of violence from hackers, the movie still managed to rake in US$18 million during its opening weekend.
According to the company, more than US$15 million came from online sales and US$2.8 million from its limited theatrical release. The movie also emerged as Sony’s bestselling online film after it was bought and rented via the internet more than two million times from 24 to 27 December.
“That is a huge number. This is almost what it was going to do theatrically before it was pulled. It made about what people expected, but in a completely different way,” said Jeff Bock, Senior Box Office Analyst at Exhibitor Relations.
According to Boxoffice.com, the US$44 million film was expected to earn at least US$20 million during its opening weekend if the big cinema chains had not backed out.
The film’s release was cancelled by Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas, AMC Entertainment, Regal Entertainment, and Cineplex Entertainment, which are estimated to control more than 20,000 screens in Canada and the United States.
Following their pullout, Sony opted for a limited release. It also rented the film online as video-on-demand (VOD) for US$5.99 and started selling it for US$14.99 via Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft Xbox Video, and a dedicated portal.
According to media reports, the studio had invested more than US$40 million to produce the film, including a US$6.5 million payment to actor James Franco and another US$8.4 million to his co-star Seth Rogen.