Sony Pictures said The Interview has earned more than US$15 million in online sales and another US$2.8 million in theaters.
The film, a comedy depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, apparently got a boost from the publicity surrounding the cyberattack blamed on North Korea.
The studio said on Sunday the film had been purchased or rented online more than 2 million times on the four days through Saturday, making it Sony Pictures’ top online movie of all time.
“That is a huge number,” Jeff Bock, a box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, was quoted as saying.
“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.”
The film that triggered the devastating cyberattack on the studio last month, which the United States says was launched by North Korea, opened Thursday in 331 independent theaters with a U$1 million box office and US$1.8 million over the subsequent three days, Sony said.
Many filmgoers and theater owners said they supported the film in the name of free speech.
Pyongyang earlier condemned the movie, calling its release “a declaration of war”.
The US$44 million film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco had been expected to gross at least US$20 million in its opening holiday weekend if it had gone to wide release, according to Boxoffice.com.
Following threats of violence from hackers who opposed the movie, major cinema operators, including AMC and Regal Entertainment, refused to screen it.
That prompted Sony to initially cancel its showing, a move that was criticized by US President Barack Obama as yielding to terrorist threats. The studio then arranged a limited release in theaters and a US$5.99 video-on-demand (VOD) rental and US$14.99 purchase option on YouTube Movies, Google Play, Microsoft Xbox Video and a dedicated site starting Dec. 24.
It was still unclear whether Sony, which is still struggling with the impact of the cyberattack, would recoup the money it spent to make the film and the US$30 million or US$40 million in estimated marketing costs, the report said.
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