The online version of The Interview is topping the movie sales chart on the Google Play store, and leads the “Top Selling” playlist on the YouTube Movies site, according to charts on both Google-owned sites.
Neither Sony nor Google representatives were disclosing actual sales numbers on the Google sites. Sony also wasn’t disclosing numbers for its custom site created this week to sell the site there. A fourth outlet selling and renting The Interview online, the Xbox Live network owned by Microsoft, has been hobbled by some of the same hacking attacks the past 24 hours that have sporadically blocked access to Sony’s PlayStation Network, the online service for its PlayStation game consoles and other devices. The PlayStation Network will be hosting the film beginning sometime next week, a spokesman there said yesterday.
The film is also playing in about 300 theaters nationwide today. It is not currently available online or off in international territories.
To some extent, The Interview had better be at the top of the charts, given the crazy controversy and ups and downs of the story over the past month, and the fact that it has both a) competing online against films such as Guardians of the Galaxy that have been out for months and b) has become practically a statement of patriotism among some in response to what the FBI said was a devastating cyber attack by North Korea to intimidate a U.S. studio and creative expression, however controversial.
If numbers are eventually released regarding the online “box office,” a big score online for the controversial film unexpectedly fuel controversy over on-demand online releases coming out day-and-date with theatrical releases. Many of the exhibition chains that pulled out of distributing The Interview last week after threats were made by anonymous hackers refused to come back in part because of Sony’s online release. At least a couple of the chains said publicly that they will never screen a movie that also has a day-and-date on-demand release.
Meanwhile, companies such as the Radius unit of The Weinstein Company continue to experiment with day-and-date releases, in some cases releasing a film on VOD a month before a limited theatrical release, to better leverage the limited marketing dollars for most of these smaller indie films.