by Michael Chasin
The Interview—Sony’s intended tent pole movie—grossed a paltry $6M domestically in its art house only theatrical release.
This was far under the anticipated $100M to have been grossed in wide release.
The Interview did, however, gross $40M in online sales and rentals.
Yet to be determined is if The Interview can earn in other windows—such as premium cable, basic cable, airline rentals, etc. —which are controlled by cautious corporations.
Those possible revenues—along with DVD sales and rentals—will be needed to recoup The Interview’s estimated $75M in production and marketing costs.
So—what can be learned from The Interview experience?
One—while freedom of speech and artistic expression are precious rights to be exercised—they do not exist in a vacuum.
Film—as the most powerful of mediums—stirs emotion—as it intends to do.
The Passion of the Christ spurred picket lines—just as today there is backlash against the sexuality of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Two—online exhibition is successful—selectively.
Even with its weeks of hoopla and A-List cast, The Interview did not make back its costs in online release—let alone what it would have made in full theatrical release.
The online platform has proven successful for lower costing, episodic content—such as House of Cards—but so far not for a tent pole movie.
Going to a holiday week movie—such as The Interview—may be more about the shared movie-going experience—than the movie itself.
Three—the quality of The Interview—ultimately did not exceed its controversy.
Even as viewing The Interview was spun as a patriotic act—this comedy was not funny enough to move the audience from its normal viewing practices.
This is controversy calculus—it should be calculated before green-lighting any movie.