UPDATE: Sony has revealed that The Interview raked in $15 million from video-on-demand downloads since it was released on YouTube and Google Play on December 24th. The Hollywood Reporter writes that the controversial comedy was digitally rented or purchased over two million times, making it Sony’s most successful online film in the studio’s history. Additionally, the film earned another $2.8 million from indie cinemas over the four-day Christmas weekend.
While the last-minute decision to distribute The Interview to indie cinemas and directly on video-on-demand diminished the controversial comedy’s box office potential, the film’s inventive release has also opened the door to a new way of presenting a movie: Seth Rogen, his writing/directing partner Evan Goldberg and James Franco will all live-tweet during The Interview Sunday starting at 2 p.m. PST.
“@JamesFrancoTV, @evandgoldberg and myself will be LIVE TWEETING #TheInterview,” Rogen tweeted. “Join us! It’ll be like Pop-UP Video!” Because the film is available on VOD, Rogen, Franco and Goldberg can synchronize the viewing experience of their just-released film, which would have been virtually impossible had The Interview been conventionally released.
Given the uproar over the film – from being a catalyst for Sony cyber attack to inciting a war of words between the United States and North Korea – The Interview live-tweet should provide some insight into some of the chaos Rogen and Franco have been experiencing since their film was briefly pulled from its December 25th theatrical release.
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The comedy, which details a wacky CIA plot to assassinate North Korea supreme leader Kim Jong-un, was withdrawn from its Christmas release after a hacker group named the Guardians of Peace threatened terrorist action against theaters showing the film. However, after President Barack Obama said Sony made “a mistake” pulling the film, the studio went into overdrive to find a method to release the film.
Despite only being released in just over 300 indie movie theaters, The Interview is still expected to reel in $3 million over the long Christmas weekend, significantly less than its expected box office from a conventional theatrical release. However, that number doesn’t factor in VOD sales, which should get a boost from the live-tweeting.
In 2011, shock jock Howard Stern was among the first to live-tweet a feature film when he provided an impromptu commentary on his biopic Private Parts while the movie was showing on HBO.