‘The Interview’ proves effectiveness of online movie release
The film industry is finally starting to catch up with consumers, thanks to Sony’s online release and distribution of “The Interview” on Christmas Eve. The Sony hacking wasn’t enough to stop the film from making over $15 million online.
The same-day release both online and in theaters is a sign of what’s to come in 2015. The rise in popularity of online streaming combined with the decline of people going to movie theaters is a trend the industry will adapt to in the future.
Following the controversial pulling from Sony in early December, the film was distributed online on Google Play, Xbox Video, iTunes and even YouTube. Sony has also reached deals with Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and Verizon to make the film available for rental through video-on-demand services. The practice will serve as an experiment on how much impact an online movie released on the same day will have on theater ticket sales.
According to The New York Times, the overall number of movie tickets sold in 2014 slid to 1.26 billion, indicating that fewer people went to the movies that year compared to the last two decades. Theaters make most of their revenue through concessions, and that requires bringing people into the theater.
If “The Interview” was able to rake in more than $15 million over Christmas weekend from online purchases and rentals alone, it’s a good indicator of what people have known for a while now. Movie theaters are going to have to adapt to the new trends in the consumption of entertainment.
The Verge reported that “The Interview” was given a limited theatrical release by Sony. About $2.8 million was brought in from the film’s theater release over the same period of time as the online release records. Theaters are going to have to focus on specialization or creating experiences people can only get at movie theaters.
The quick turnaround from Sony is an example of how fast movies can be distributed today in contrast to the slower, traditional release cycle. Movie releases don’t have to follow the process of premiering only in theaters for several months before being released in digital and disc form.
Making the film available online and in theaters simultaneously gave “The Interview” the ability to reach the widest range of viewers possible. Especially with its Christmas Day premiere, the online release affects how people spend the holidays.
“Instead of having to go out to see it, I was able to watch the most talked about movie at home, in my pajamas, with my family,” said English sophomore Elizabeth Garcia. “It’s not like watching a movie with 100 other people. It feels more special; it’s intimate.”
Rather than going out with the family to the local movie theater, people can see these premiere titles in the comfort of their own homes. We’re free to eat whatever snacks we want. We are given the ability to rewind to watch scenes over again or turn on the subtitles.
“I could watch ‘The Interview’ as many times as I wanted, at any time. I didn’t have to go through a process of leaving my house, buying a ticket and getting snacks,” said music history junior Matthew Bennett. “It’s just convenient.”
“The Interview” has been rented or purchased online over 2 million times, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film made its mark on history as the largest day-and-date release determined by money generated from the release.
It also pushes Hollywood studios forward in rethinking their marketing strategies and getting the public to see these productions. Movie theaters are competing against online distributors, and they need to find their own edge by creating a special experience only available in theaters.
The film may also have put some spotlight on YouTube’s movie rental service that’s been around for two years. While YouTube is the hub of Vine compilations, music and baby animal videos for many, Google’s service may have gained some footing in becoming a recognized rental and streaming platform.
It didn’t matter if the movie was funnier than it was expected to be, whether the plot made sense or if it was a “good” film. The drama proceeding the movie’s premiere and the effort put into releasing it nationwide make it important.
There wasn’t any new or innovative technology behind the release either. Hollywood is just finally catching up with what everyone has been asking for.
Opinion columnist Gemrick Curtom is a public relations senior and may be reached at [email protected]