'The Interview' makes first million in roller-coaster release
By Eric Kelsey
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "The Interview" took in more than $1 million in a limited Christmas Day release, a decent start for the raunchy comedy that appeared dead after Sony Pictures pulled it from theaters last week following a devastating cyberattack blamed on North Korea.
Even though the film was very much in the zeitgeist and also up for rental on YouTube and Google Play, it was unclear whether the Seth Rogan movie would recoup the $44 million it cost to make, or the additional millions spent on marketing.
The comedy, steeped in gross-out, bathroom humor that depicts a fictional plot to assassinate North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, managed to fill a few hundred theaters that made a last-minute push to screen the film.
"They (Sony) got $1 million in sales, that's a nice bit of gravy... knowing the main release isn't happening the way it should be," said Gitesh Pandya, editor of boxofficeguru.com.
"The Interview" was shown in 331 mostly independent theaters in the United States - less than 10 percent of its planned wide release - after major U.S. movie chains balked at showing the movie due to security concerns.
It was expected to gross at least $20 million over the long holiday weekend if in wide release, according to Boxoffice.com.
Sony Pictures also released the movie online via Google Inc's YouTube and Google Play, Microsoft Corp's Xbox gaming console and Sony's own dedicated website. It is looking for more partners for digital distribution, though hundreds of thousands of people have reportedly downloaded it from pirate sites.
"Considering the incredibly challenging circumstances, we are extremely grateful to the people all over the country who came out to experience 'The Interview' on the first day of its unconventional release," Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures president of distribution, said in a statement. Continued...