The Interview: Not Your Standard Movie Release

The Interview: Not Your Standard Movie Release

Lauren PesinMonday,29 December 2014

As the whole world knows, an American comedy film depicting the attempted assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made said leader mad…very mad. Instead of letting the world know his little feelings were hurt, he conducted a massive cyber attack on Sony films and made violent threats against many people associated with the film. The movie subsequently was leaked on the internet, resulting in the cancellation of the standard release of the film.

“Standard” simply means the normal way for movies of its ilk: made by huge production companies with tons of cash starring big name actors; and method, national release on a date announced far in advance, played at 2000+ movie theaters. Instead, The Interview was released on Christmas at 331 independent theaters, simultaneously available for download from select digital stores.

Meanwhile, people globally (especially Americans) keep buying more big screen televisions, mobile devices, and better sound systems to watch movies downloaded or streamed from the comfort of their own home or wherever they want. This trend may be likened to consumer patterns of yesteryear associated with downloading music. We know how that ended up.

Although these conditions may not seem a highlight of Kim Jong-uns’ insanity, it just might be. Why is this movie release an important result or even a significant event?

This event could very well tell us the future of both the movie industry and the consumer movie experience.

Multiple platforms offering the movie experienced technical woes resulting in intermittent downloading. In addition, the reporting from streaming platforms is scarce. Thus, the success of the release is debatable. However, this could have been a test.

On Christmas day The Interview was illegally downloaded 750,00 times. As of December 28, 2014 Sony reported that The Interview had made $15 Million from online sales and rentals and $2.8 million from theater sales. For those bad with math, these numbers indicate at least 5 times the amount of online sales vs. theaters. Granted, the number of moviegoers was likely impacted by the threats of a lunatic, leaked content, and sheer curiosity of those who would never have seen the movie prior to the hoopla.
This atypical release could provide insight about ourselves as moviegoers and the movie industry.

What information will the movie industry glean from this experience? Are moviegoers ready to begin the online shift? Should movie theaters that rely on big movie hype and concessions worry about their future? Are the big boys, such as AMC, Regal, and Cinemark theaters headed down the path of decimation that music production companies have seen? Is all the hype and all the money spent for marketing really needed? How do you like to watch movies, in the theater or at home? Does the method you watch a movie depend on what movie it is? Should we tell movie companies that? Who will end up fallen or victorious on this technological wave of film?

I am sorry that I have a lot more questions than answers. The only thing I know is that I love movies. I love movies on my big screen at home, on my tablet riding the train, and of course from the ease and glory of a reclining stadium seat and the surround sound of the big movie screen.

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Hat Tips:

Vox, The New York Times, CBS News, Image Credit: The Interview on Facebook

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