After the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, major theatre chains were wary of releasing the controversial the movie The Interview on Christmas Eve.
This forced Sony to consider alternate ways to distribute the movie. The studio decided to go ahead with independent theatres and made the movie available online on YouTube, Google Play, XBox, iTunes, Crackle and a standalone website. Viewers in the US and Canada could rent (stream) the movie for $5.99 or purchase (download) it for $14.99.
The Interview raked in $15 million in online sales in its first four days, as compared to $3 million from the independent theatres. While $15 million isn’t really comparable to what larger theatre chains would bring in, it did help the movie set the record as Sony’s highest online grossing film of all time.
(UPDATE: On Jan 6, Sony said the film had rented, streamed or purchased 4.3 million times, and digital sales grossed $31 million)
Inspired by the initial success, Sony is now expanding distribution of the movie to its Playstation Network, to cable television through US pay-per-view network In Demand, and to Walmart’s video-on-demand service Vudu. As the studio continues to experiment with its release strategy and see more signs of success, could we expect to see more movies launched simultaneously across theatres, TV and online? It would definitely be more convenient for viewers, and perhaps quite profitable for studios as well. But not so for theatres, and therein could lie a problem.
— The National (@TheNationalUAE) January 4, 2015
This post is a part of our December monthly brief: Trends for 2015 – Digital Releases for Movies