The Interview racks up $31m in VOD sales

The Interview has made $31m through online and VOD sales in its first ten days of release, according to Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Platforms that initially carried the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy include YouTube, Google Play and Microsoft Xbox. They were later joined by iTunes and the major US cable, satellite and telco operators, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Verizon and Dish. Amazon and Netflix are not currently showing the film, although Sony is in talks with Netflix.

Sony’s own Crackle online service is not offering The Interview, but then the site doesn’t have any TVOD mechanism to charge consumers the $5.99 rental and $14.99 purchase fee that other VOD outlets have been offering. Instead, Sony created an in-house site, SeetheInterview.com, to directly sell the film.

The Interview has also made more than $5m from a limited theatrical release, but is estimated to have production and marketing costs of around $75m. Originally the film was scheduled for release on around 3,000 screens on Christmas Day and was expected to gross $20m during its opening weekend.

However those plans were scrapped when hackers objected to the film’s storyline, about a TV host tasked with assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and threatened violent attacks on cinemas that showed the film.

After deciding to distribute the film online, Sony backtracked on plans to ditch the theatrical release and worked with the 500 or so arthouse and independent cinemas in the US that are willing to show a film simultaneously with a VOD release.

The US has blamed North Korea for the embarrassing cyberattack that revealed the emails of senior Sony executives, and is implementing sanctions against the rogue state, although a theory has also circulated that disgruntled former employees may have hacked the studio.