North Korea comedy becomes Sony all-time online hit

The Google Play purchase page for Sony film The Interview. The controversial North Korea satire has made over US$31 million (S$42 million) on the Internet and other small-screen formats, Sony's best-grossing online film ever. -- PHOTO: AFP
The Google Play purchase page for Sony film The Interview. The controversial North Korea satire has made over US$31 million (S$42 million) on the Internet and other small-screen formats, Sony's best-grossing online film ever. -- PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Controversial North Korea satire The Interview has made over US$31 million (S$42 million) on the Internet and other small-screen formats, Sony's best-grossing online film ever, the studio said on Tuesday.

Including box-office takings, the movie has made some US$36 million, approaching its reported US$44 million budget, according to the Hollywood studio.

The Interview, which triggered a hacking attack on Sony Pictures blamed by US authorities on Pyongyang, has been rented or bought online and through cable, satellite, and telecom providers more than 4.3 million times, it said.

That makes it the studio's No. 1 online film of all time, it said, announcing updated figures from Dec 24 through to Jan 4.

The figures do not include earnings from some 580 theaters which have screened the movie. Box-office takings there total some US$5 million so far, a Sony Pictures statement said.

Sony Pictures initially resisted demands by hackers that it cancel the film's planned December 25 release date. But it gave in the week before Christmas, before changing its mind again and releasing it from Dec 24.

Online the movie is available via Google Play; YouTube Movies; Microsoft's Xbox Video; iTunes; VUDU, Walmart's digital VOD service; PlayStation Network; Amazon Instant Video; and through a dedicated website.

The film, which tells the story of a fictitious CIA plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, is also available with leading US cable, satellite, and telecom providers' video-on-demand services.