‘The Interview’ Tumbles at Box Office as VOD, Streaming Expand

With Sony comedy now available on cable, satellite and online, it takes in just $1.1 million from 581 theaters in 2nd weekend

“The Interview,” the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy at the center of the Sony Pictures hack attack, had a soft second weekend at the box office.

It took in $1.1 million from 581 mainly smaller and independent theaters over the three days. That’s down from the $2.8 million it took in at the box office in its four-day debut in 331 theaters over the previous weekend.

But with “The Interview” now available on virtually every major cable, satellite and online platform, it doesn’t make sense to apply typical box-office logic when assessing the commercial success of the film.

The more significant figure last weekend was the $15 million that the R-rated comedy grossed in online rentals and sales. Sony elected to make the film available at several streaming sites the day before its Christmas Day theatrical debut.

This weekend’s grosses from VOD and streaming numbers are likely to be released in the next few days, but expect them to be significantly larger than the box office.

“The Interview, which has a $45 million production budget, was at one time set for a nationwide release in more than 2,000 theaters. But Sony scrapped that when a group claiming to be behind the cyberattack on the studio made terror threats against any theater playing the film.

Last week, Sony cut deals making “The Interview” available on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks. The studio had earlier added iTunes to the mix of online sites that initially offered it, including Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and Sony’s own streaming site.

The nation’s largest theaters chains, including AMC, Regal and Carmike, have boycotted the film’s release to protest Sony’s decision to offer it online the same day it hit theaters. That’s a hot-button issue for theater owners, who see concurrent online debuts as a threat to business.