The controversial Sony Pictures film made nearly as much online as was expected from the planned cinematic release
Sony Pictures’ controversial “The Interview” took in about $18 million (£11.5m) over the four-day Christmas weekend, with most of the takings coming from online platforms, Sony said.
“The Interview” was purchased or rented online more than 2 million times over the Christmas weekend, making it the studio’s highest-selling online film ever.
The film made its online debut on Christmas Eve, the date that Sony had originally planned to release it in cinemas before most major cinema chains cancelled screenings in the face of threats from a hacking group.
The same group, “Guardians of Peace”, also claimed responsibility for a damaging hack on Sony Pictures in November, and had demanded that Sony pull the release of the film altogether.
The incident took on a higher profile when the FBI accused the North Korean government of sponsoring the Sony hack, something North Korea denied, although it called the hack “righteous”.
Many viewers said they had attended screenings at the 331 mostly independent US cinemas who carried “The Interview” beginning on Christmas Day in defence of free speech.
The film took in more than $15m in online viewings and rentals as of Monday, with another $2.8m from cinema ticket sales, Sony said, with the total nearing the $20m takings that had reportedly been expected from the originally planned theatrical release.
It was the fifth-highest grossing film of the Christmas weekend, following “Night at the Museum 3”, which made $20m, and ahead of “The Gambler” at $14.3m.
It was also the most-pirated film of the week, according to TorrentFreak, which said it had been downloaded more than 750,000 times within 20 hours of being made available. The film was downloaded 1.5 million times in the first two days.
“The Interview” cost $44m to produce and $36m to market, according to reports.
Sony created a dedicated website to carry the film, SeeTheInterview.com, and it was initially also carried on YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Video, with Apple adding it to the iTunes Store on Sunday. iTunes is the most popular video-on-demand platform on the Internet.
Google highlighted the film with a direct link on its home page.
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