Sony sets release date for The Interview
Sony Pictures is releasing the controversial Seth Rogen/James Franco action-comedy The Interview in Australian cinemas on February 12, as counter-programming against Fifty Shades of Grey.
The film was due to open on January 22 but was withdrawn amid the Sony hacking scandal, threats to US cinemas and North Korea’s objections to the plot depicting an attempt to assassinate Kim Jong-un.
The crude satire was released in the US on more than 300 indie cinemas on Christmas Day and on digital platforms, generating $US31 million in online revenues and $5 million in ticket sales.
Australian exhibitors are supporting the release but some worry its B.O. prospects will be diluted because many Aussies have already downloaded the title.
“Sony are a major supplier to exhibition and I think the industry should get behind them and support the film,” Reading Cinemas CEO Wayne Smith tells IF .
“Unfortunately time is running against Sony and there are a lot of comments on Sony’s Facebook page from people who have already illegally downloaded it.”
Smith, who hasn’t seen the film, adds, “I don’t have a sense for how the film’s release prospects will stand up but I’d like to think the industry will help Sony in any way they request.”
Wallis Cinemas program manager Bob Parr hasn't seen the film either but says, "I was a little hesitant when the Lindt Café thing was happening but now it is just another Seth Rogen film. I think it will have two weeks in it because of the publicity."
Another exhibitor is confident the caper will appeal to the same demographic that flocked to such films as Pineapple and This Is The End. He thinks piracy might reduce the potential B.O. gross by up to 20% but the impact could be offset by the copious publicity.
Sony will launch the film on about 170 screens. ”It’s a solid multiplex release. All the exhibitors are on board, " Libby Rhys Jones, national marketing director for Sony Pictures Releasing, told News Limited.
“Australians are big fans of Seth and James. We are giving them the opportunity to see it in the cinema if they want to.”
US analysts doubt the day-and-date distribution model will become widespread, believing the major chains will continue to boycott any titles that are released in cinemas and online simultaneously.
Also they say studios are unlikely to recoup production costs- $44 million in the case of The Interview- from this method of release.
The US reviews were decidedly mixed. Rolling Stone’s Pete Travers branded the plot as “stupid and in bad taste” but concluded, “In the end, The Interview hits the sweet spot for raunchy fun and spiky lampooning because Franco and Rogen are effing hilarious and fearless about swinging for the fences.”
Movie City News’ David Poland responded to “a silly, broad, very funny comedy about a couple of close male friends… going on a profoundly stupid adventure.”
Christy Lemire mused, “This is what all the fuss was about? A movie composed almost entirely of dick jokes, ass jokes and bromantic homoeroticism was the cause of an international incident? In retrospect, it all seems so lame and more than a little depressing.”