Sony Pictures’ The Interview is eyeing just more than $1M in Christmas Day theatrical box office from its 331 locations, according to studio estimates that dropped this morning. The $3,142 per-theater average marks a decent opening day — fairly ordinary for a pic whose distribution plan has been the opposite of ordinary since the studio first scrapped its release then reinstated it as the massive Sony Pictures hacking attack swirled around it.
The next shoe to drop: Sony’s has yet to announce how it might expand the pic over the weekend and into the New Year. For now, that means it likely will remain at same number of runs going into January 31. Such political football pics such as Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 and comedies like Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat have grossed $24M-26M bows off engagements in the low 800s.
Today’s estimate of a $1.04M gross on Thursday — it puts The Interview at No. 13 on the domestic box office charts — is also notable given the title is available via VOD, where most in the U.S and Canada had access to rent the pic by 10 AM PT on Christmas Eve. As Deadline reported yesterday, the pic was at the top of the download charts via digital portals YouTube Movies, Xbox Video and Google Play.
“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, said Sony’s president of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer today. The audience reaction was fantastic — the limited release, in under 10% of the amount of theaters originally planned, featured numerous sellouts and a first-day gross over $1 million.”
Among the indie chains jumping aboard to show the movie, Alamo Drafthouse said most of its 19 venues reported sellouts, and the noise was notable nationwide. But art house venues vary greatly in terms of capacity, so it’s not always easy to gauge. Given the unprecedented hype, The Interview‘s first day in theaters appears to be a mixed bag, given that limited releases playing in the right art houses can make $1M+ off of as little as 18 venues.