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Theater Owners Claim Sony Will Lose $30 Million On Seth Rogen And James Franco’s ‘The Interview’

Theater Owners Claim Sony Will Lose $30 Million On Seth Rogen And James Franco's 'The Interview'

So, remember “The Interview“? Barely a month ago it was the only thing the movie world was talking about, and now the comedy is a distant memory. But for Sony, the picture proved to be a grand and ultimately successful experiment about what a star-driven, highly publicized, straight-to-VOD release could accomplish. Granted, it was an extraordinary situation, but numbers from earlier in the month revealed that the studio earned $31 million for digital sales and rentals of the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy, which, coupled with $5 million from its limited theatrical release, puts the total at $36 million — not a far cry from the movie’s $44 million budget. But some are arguing that Sony missed out on earning more, and, not surprisingly, it’s the theater owners who are making the argument.

In an opinion piece for Box Office, Patrick Corcoran, Vice President & Chief Communications Officer of the National Association of Theater Owners, runs down the numbers to make an argument that nothing about Sony’s release of “The Interview” was a “game changer.” And while no one has necessarily argued that it won’t be business as usual in Hollywood for a while yet, the fear that theater owners have about VOD is expressed quite clearly in this paragraph: 

…no one knows how many people those 4.3 million transactions represent. Some people organized viewing parties to support free speech-much as moviegoers went in groups to see the theatrical release–but we simply don’t know how many people watched the average download. Was it two? Three? Suddenly that $7.20 per download becomes $3.60 per viewer or maybe $2.40. Just as a point of comparison, the average theatrical ticket price stood at $8.12 through the end of the third quarter of 2014.
The only game changed here was just how much money Sony left on the table.

Essentially, VOD and streaming — which offers everyone the chance to watch a movie in the comfort of their own home at a fraction of the cost of going to the theater — is the real threat to cinema owners. Whether or not the game is changed is beside the point — change is coming. And it’s interesting to note that the piece never really gets into NATO’s own role in reportedly balking at showing “The Interview” when threats were made before it was scheduled to be released. However, they claim that “in this simultaneous-release game, Sony is $30 million in the hole and almost out of cards.”

Anyway, you can continue the conversation below but here’s another revenue stream coming for Sony: home video. “The Interview” will land on DVD and Blu-ray in both standard and “Freedom Edition” variations, the latter loaded with extras of course, on February 17th. Check out the cover below.

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