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Sony's 'The Interview' Takes in $1 Million on Christmas Day

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 12/26/2014 Lucas Shaw

(Bloomberg) -- Sony Pictures said “The Interview” took in almost $1 million in ticket sales on Christmas Day, as the comedy filled U.S. theaters in limited release without incident following promised threats of violence.

The movie, which opened in more than 300 locations, was also available for rent and purchase at Google Play and other websites. It topped the charts of two online marketplaces, Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox video store and YouTube’s movie store.

Filmgoers made a point to see “The Interview” on the big screen after major cinema chains dropped the movie because computer hackers linked by the FBI to North Korea threatened to attack theaters that showed it. Sony released the film to independent theaters after drawing criticism from President Barack Obama to the Republican National Committee over its initial decision to shelve the Dec. 25 debut.

“Considering the incredibly challenging circumstances, we are extremely grateful to the people all over the country who came out to experience ‘The Interview’ on the first day of its unconventional release,” Rory Bruer, president worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures, said in an e-mail.

Hackers last month broke into Sony’s computer systems, releasing contracts, e-mails and other confidential data onto the Internet. The cyber-terrorists condemned the movie, a farcical comedy about a a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. That country denied it was behind the attack.

Sony announced on Dec. 24 that the Seth Rogen film would be available for rent and purchase at Google Play and other websites at a price of $5.99 to rent or $14.99 to buy, in addition to limited release in independent theaters.

Financial Performance

Yesterday Hackers hit Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Sony’s PlayStation Network, Internet services that video gamers use to play online. A group called Lizard Squad claimed responsibility. Both PlayStation and Xbox acknowledged the problems from corporate Twitter accounts.

“Our engineers are continuing to work hard to resolve the network issues users have experienced today,” AskPlayStation posted. “Thanks for your continued patience!”

The movie’s financial performance will test whether a broad studio comedy can succeed when released online and in theaters at the same time. The studio spent an estimated $80 million making and marketing the film, according to Wade Holden, an analyst at Kagan Research.

In other Christmas releases, Walt Disney Co. said “Into The Woods” took in $15.1 million in ticket sales in about 2,440 theaters.

The online release of “The Interview” also exposed the film to intellectual property pirates. The website Torrent Freak reported the movie has been downloaded more than 750,000 times since its appearance online. Sony didn’t comment on the piracy and hasn’t announced plans to release the film overseas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lucas Shaw in Los Angeles at lshaw31@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Cecile Daurat at cdaurat@bloomberg.net James Callan, Rob Golum

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