Despite making $18M, don’t expect ‘The Interview’ to revolutionize digital movie distribution

At first glance, Sony’s “The Interview” had a good start in its improvised release schedule. But anyone who thinks this will lead to a new era in digital movie distribution is kidding themselves.

According to a Sony press release, about 2 million customers spent $15 million to download or watch the movie online. In addition, the movie has bagged $2.8 million playing in 331 movie theaters through Sunday. Of course, another 1.5 million peoplehave downloaded the movie via torrent, from which Sony makes zilch.

If we were being generous, then, and counting all $18 million as the opening weekend, the movie would have been the fifth highest grossing movie of a big holiday weekend.

As Variety notes, the original plan called for the movie to be shown on about 3,000 screens starting on Christmas Day. Projections had it making $20 million by the end of its first weekend.

In general, then, given the chaos of the past week, and Sony’s waffling about whether and how to release a movie that was allegedly the reason North Korean hackers targeted the company, $18 million is not bad.

While it seems like the movie will have a tough time making back its reported $75 million budget, Sony clearly has at least salvaged something from a financial perspective. Sony will get some additional help now that Apple’s iTunes has started selling the movie in the U.S. and Canada. Any kind of global distribution, however (other than illegal torrents, that is), seems like it will take a while.

Of course, Sony wants to spin this as a greater triumph than it is, noting the numbers make “The Interview” its biggest online hit ever. That’s not saying much.

In this case, the movie benefited from extraordinary publicity. By the time Christmas rolled around, it was safe to say just about everyone in the U.S. had heard something about the movie given that even President Obama felt compelled to weigh in on the drama surrounding its release. A typical release online would have an incredibly difficult time getting such attention or even much respect given that people tend to view movies that get VOD-first releases as a sign that movie is weak.

More than that, the actual amount of revenue generated is a meaningless measure. What matters is the underlying terms of the revenue deals that Sony struck with distributors like Google and Apple.

Obviously, sales through Sony’s website are likely lucrative for the company. But we don’t really know the terms of the other deals, and without that information, it becomes impossible to draw any conclusions about the impact of the strategy. Given the rush to strike the deals, though, it’s hard to imagine Sony felt like it had much leverage to maximize its split of any revenue.

In general, Sony would negotiate hard on such deals, knowing that they risk angering theater owners who expect to get such releases first and to have long windows before they are released on video. Sony still needs these theater owners to secure screens for its blockbuster releases.

For now, then, you can expect Sony and just about every other studio to keep doing business as they’ve always done business, and to keep fighting to keep things from changing too fast. The future of digital movie distribution will get here, eventually, but nothing that happened last week will accelerate the incremental pace of change

A BATHING APE Spring/Summer 2015 Lookbook

Bearbrick Earbud Headphones


A new collaboration between Medicom Toy and Radius. The two have teamed up for an exciting new product in the [email protected] range – earbud headphones. You basically get quality in-ear headphones in the shape of the Medicom Bearbrick toy. Look out for a release January 2015.

Bandai Releases Samurai Star Wars Darth Vader & Stormtrooper Figures

Officially labeled as Meisho Movie Realization Star Wars Samurai Taisho Darth Vader and Trooper, the details on the two figures is rather impressive. Apparently George Lucas was inspired by Samurais for his figures, so the combination of the two worlds, 17th century Samurai and the futuristic Star Wars, somehow makes sense.

Panthers, Falcons head in opposite directions


Coach Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers are headed back to the playoffs.

Owner Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons could be preparing to hire a new head coach.

In a winner-take-all regular season finale, the Panthers easily beat the Falcons 34-3 to win the weak NFC South on Sunday.

The victory gave Carolina (7-8-1) a division title for a second straight year, a first-time achievement for the franchise, as the Panthers prepare to host Arizona in a wild-card playoff game on Saturday.

Read more here:

Atlanta (6-10) has collapsed since nearly winning the NFC title game two years ago. The Falcons, losers in 22 of their last 32 games, could have different leadership in the next few days if Blank fires Smith in the next day or so.

Though Smith won two division titles and made four playoff appearances in his first five years, those achievements weren’t enough to prevent Atlanta’s collapse over the last two seasons.

If he is fired, Smith will leave as the winningest coach in the Falcons’ 49-year history.

Smith said he never saw Sunday’s horrible performance coming after what he thought was a good week of practice and game-planning.

“It sends a signal to me that I didn’t get the job done,” Smith said. “I’m the one that’s held responsible for it.”

A few things to consider for both teams:

WHAT’S NEXT: While Blank decides what to do with Smith, Rivera will have his team back at work preparing for Arizona.

Despite being 3-8-1 following a lopsided loss at Minnesota on Nov. 30, Carolina rallied while division rivals Atlanta and New Orleans fell apart.

“Our guys are the kind of guys that we want,” Rivera said, “and I just felt if we kept playing and kept taking care of our business that we would get that opportunity.”

EVEN KEEL: To avoid a letdown against the Cardinals, linebacker Thomas Davis wants everyone in the Carolina locker room to remember how empty it felt to lose at home in the playoffs last year to San Francisco.

“We hosted a playoff game last year and didn’t fare well,” Davis said. “We understand that as a team. We’re going to remain focused, and we have to make sure we do a good job of making sure that we take care of business at home.”

MIX ‘EM UP: Falcons receiver Roddy White said the offense was surprised by the zone coverage Carolina deployed and was disappointed that Atlanta never seemed to adjust.

“They mixed up a bunch of different coverages and didn’t play a whole lot of man coverages,” White said. “They dropped eight, they dropped seven and they rallied to the ball. They did a good job of that and kind of confused us early in the game that we weren’t prepared for.”

YOUNG AND TOUGH: The Panthers, who started a franchise-record seven rookies on both sides of the line in last Sunday’s home win over Cleveland, got a boost defensively from rookie starters Bene Benwikere and Tre Boston and reserves Adarius Glanton and Kony Ealy.

The foursome combined for 10 solo tackles, one sack, one interception, one forced fumble and one pass breakup.

Said Boston, who picked off Matt Ryan’s pass to Harry Douglas and returned it 84 yards for a touchdown on the last play of the third quarter, “I think it was our best overall defensive game that we played this season. From seven, back seven, we just all did our jobs. We’re coached to play to our potential.”

LONG, HARD FALL: Ryan wanted to win the game and the division, not just for Smith, but for everybody on the team.

“I think it was about everyone in our organization,” Ryan said. “I think when we came into this game, it wasn’t just about Mike. It was about us as a team. We wanted to continue to play and we felt like we had the right team to do that.”

BY THE NUMBERS: Rivera improved his career December record to 15-3 since 2011. … The Falcons dropped to 5-1 against the NFC South. They went 1-9 outside the division. … Panthers QB Cam Newton has averaged 7.7 yards per carry in 60 career rushing attempts against Atlanta. Newton was Carolina’s leading rusher with 51 yards. The team finished with 194 to just 63 for Atlanta.






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