Before the holiday, Sony said it was going to shelve The Interview and leave it to collect dust on a shelf for a while until the threats died down. The move caused an outcry over freedom of expression. Even President Obama criticized this decision.
The studio eventually decided to go ahead with the Christmas Day release, but due to the controversy, only a handful of theaters (331, to be exact) opted to actually screen the movie. Its theatrical box office total to date is slightly more than $6 million.
But that doesn’t mean that people didn’t get to see the movie. Sony decided to release the film digitally, on Xbox, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube and Video On Demand. The movie brought in $15 million in digital revenue during its opening week.
That $21 million in combined revenue was certainly not enough money to recoup the $44 million spent on making this movie, and nowhere near the amount of money that a typical Seth Rogen movie brings in opening weekend.
However, with 2 million downloads at the end of 2014, it was the studio’s biggest online film to date.
It is also the largest day-and-date release (meaning being released simultaneously theatrically and digitally) to date. And, a better sign still for the troubled film is that as of Jan. 4, the film had brought in $31 million digitally.
This strong showing (being touted by the studio itself as its “#1 online film of all time”) could mean that we will slowly start to see a bigger shift towards more day-and-date digital releases in the not-so-distant future.
Combined with in-theater viewings, The Interview is inching closer to covering its costs, and instead of being a Christmas turkey, Sony could end up with a Christmas present, after all.