Sony said its comedy The Interview generated about $15 million in revenue from online sales to around 2 million Web users in the U.S. and Canada during the film's first weekend of availability. The numbers are notable considering The Interview is the first major motion picture to be released online and in theaters at the same time.
The Interview premiered Dec. 24 on YouTube, Google Play, Xbox Video, and Sony's own site, SeeTheInterview.com. On Sunday, Apple began offering the movie through its iTunes service. Netflix is rumored to be preparing to release the film as well, though the company has made so such announcement yet.
The Interview costs $14.99 to own or $5.99 to rent online.
In its announcement, Sony said that, "after only four days, The Interview already ranks as Sony Pictures #1 online film of all time."
Interestingly, according to Torrent Freak, The Interview was pirated an estimated 1.5 million times in its first weekend of availability.
Most major movie theaters across the country declined to show The Interview. However, the film opened in around 300 independent movie theaters across the country. The movie has generated about $3 million in estimated sales at the box office so far--making its total net haul around $18 million from online ticket sales and sales of tickets at physical movie theaters.
Sony reportedly spent roughly $70 million making The Interview. According to Variety, Sony had hoped to make roughly $20 million from distribution in 3,000 theaters across the United States during the movie's opening weekend, before those plans were thwarted by hackers.
To be clear, Sony hadn't intended to be a trailblazer in the online video arena. The company suffered a major cyber attack that the U.S. government has blamed on North Korea. The Interview made North Korea's naughty list due to its premise, in which two hapless reporters are tasked by the CIA to assassinate the leader of the isolated state. Hackers' threats of violence against movie theaters that showed the film essentially nixed the movie's standard opening weekend; Sony subsequently decided to release it online as well as in independent theaters.
Although online sales of The Interview appear to be relatively solid, VentureBeat points out that the film likely won't signal a change to the way movies are distributed in the United States.
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