Over the weekend, The Interview made a decent $2.81 million at the box-office in only 331 theaters (including George R.R. Martin’s theater, which sold out all its Christmas Day screenings of The Interview), and added $15 million in digital online sales. The film was rented or downloaded over 2 million times, according to Sony, and because the studio actually gets a bigger piece of the digital sales pie, the online gambit may actually make a profit for Sony yet.
A total of $18 million over the holiday may not seem like that much, but compared to Big Eyes ($4.4 million since Christmas) or even Mark Wahlberg’s The Gambler ($14.4 million since Christmas), The Interview actually performed modestly well, all things considering, although it did have the benefit of weeks of publicity and a lot of viewers watching the film out of protest. On the other hand, The Interview also lost several million dollars to illlegal downloads (775,000, and counting). In four days, The Interview also became one of the biggest — if not the biggest — On Demand seller ever, beating out Arbitrage ($14 million) and Snowpiercer ($7 million).
Of course, it didn’t compare to the big boys at the box office over the holiday weekend. The final installment in The Hobbit trilogy was the weekend’s number one film, with $41 million (bringing its two week total to $168 million). Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken actually edged out Into the Woods ($47 million to $46 million) for the biggest new opener since Christmas, while family-friendly holdovers Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Annie ($55 million and $45 million cumulative, respectively) rounded out the top five.
Meanwhile, in the specialty market, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper broke Christmas release records with $152,00 per theater average (in four theaters) and Selma added nearly $1 million in only 19 theaters. We will have reviews of both before they go wide in January.