After some back and forth regarding how seriously they would take completely ridiculous threats of violence from cyberterrorists, Sony Pictures Entertainment decided to release The Interview in select theaters and online via various streaming outlets. The net result was $15 million in revenue from rental and sales via online methods – with the “vast majority” coming from sales on YouTube and Google Play. The movie also took another $1 million in receipts from its theatrical release in the United States this weekend.
All in all, that’s not a bad take considering that Sony had almost scrapped the movie’s release entirely. That said, it cost $90 million to make, so even this victory is a pyrrhic one. The Interview may pull in more cash if other theaters agree to show the film in the coming weeks, as it becomes clearer that the threats held no real menace. If the movie ever makes its way to international markets (and given its controversial subject matter, that may be more difficult than it would be for most other movies), it could find even more paths to earning back its cost.
So is the move any good? Was it worth all this trouble in the first place? Here’s my one-paragraph review after I watched it this weekend:
The Interview definitely had a few decent laughs, and I’ve seen worse movies. But as far as comedies go, it was pretty dumb – too dumb for a movie that wants to call itself a satire. Also, it could’ve also saved itself the trouble of pissing off the wrong people by going ahead and calling its villain by some other name, and making him the dictator of some other fictional country. Since The Interview had little in common with reality anyway and failed to make any kind of actual commentary on real world affairs through its “satirical lens,” the use of North Korea and Kim Jong Un seems to be there for shock value alone.
And that’s that. The good news about this movie’s fate is that it’s cheaper than ever to watch it without having to buy eight or ten dollar tickets to a theatrical showing, so you won’t feel too burned after dropping six bucks for your online rental. The bad news is that this movie was never really worth the fight it spawned. The “victory” of releasing it online certainly strikes a blow in the name of freedom of speech – and that shouldn’t be overlooked. But it feels like a hollow victory at best because The Interview as a piece of art doesn’t really deserve to be held up as an example of why freedom of speech is so important.