The film, which just launched this morning on Apple’s huge iTunes Store, debuted Christmas Eve on YouTube Movies, the Google Play Store, Microsoft’s Xbox Live network and the stand-alone site SeeTheInterview.com. Sources said more than half the revenues came from the two Google-owned outlets, where the film was topping sales charts within a day of its online release. The film is not in the Top 30 on the iTunes store so far today.
The initial offering was only in the United States, but was subsequently expanded to Canada. Sony said the $15 million in revenues comes from both sales and rentals for the first four days of the controversial comedy’s release. In all, Sony said the film had been rented or purchased 2 million times. The film cost $5.99 to stream as a rental, or $14.99 to download and own. Both versions were in HD.
The film also was screened in 331 theaters, bringing in another $2.8 million beginning Christmas Day. The substantial online revenues for the film may fuel additional conversation and even controversy about day-and-date debuts for films online and in theaters.
Most larger chains and some smaller ones refuse as a matter of policy to screen films that simultaneously are available online. That was one reason why the reinstated Interview ended up mostly in art houses, which already have been dealing with such day-and-date releases for some time now. Indeed, in the case of many specialty releases from indie distributors such as The Weinstein Company’s Radius unit, the VOD offering may arrive a month ahead of the theatrical debut.
Having a big-budget film (The Interview cost a reported $44 million to create) get the day-and-date treatment, even in the extraordinary circumstances of the film, may encourage larger distributors to consider such an approach to maximize marketing dollars on the front end of a film’s release.