Approximately two million digital downloads and seats at 331 theaters helped Sony rake in roughly $18 million in sales for the controversial film The Interview, though that early take falls well below original sales forecast and might only be viewed as a victory by optimists.
It's a good story. The film depicting the attempted assassination of North Korea's despot draws about $18 million as the American spirit shines through the blackout curtains terrorists attempted to draw over The Interview.
With approximately $15 million of the movie's early sales coming from digital distribution channels such as Google Play and YouTube, the tech world sees a large bound forward in the eventual transition of Hollywood blockbusters to releasing online in conjunction with theaters. The Inteview made history, becoming the highest-grossing film ever launched digitally.
Realists and pessimists, however, see a different plot line, one with a darker and more ominous narrative. Sony Pictures originally planned for the Seth Rogen comedy to debut in roughly 3,000 theaters and previous forecasts projected the film to take in up to $60 million in its first weekend.
While digital sales were encouraging for a film that almost fizzled out behind a curtain of censorship, the disparity between online revenue and theatrical forecast could discourage other large studios from jumping into the digital market just yet -- it may have even tempered or struck through any musing by studio heads to flank theatrical releases with digital downloads. It won't be impossible for Sony to make its $75 million investment back, but it's still very much an uphill battle.
There may be a bit of good news for those appalled at North Korea's power to have such devastating control over an American company and to censor media stateside. The good news is, there's new evidence that absolves North Korea of the massive security breach and points to disgruntled employees who were axed by Sony Pictures.
Norse Security says it found evidence that implicates six former employees of Sony Pictures in the attack that breached the studio's network and leaked 27 GB of internal documents.
Before concluding that North Korea was behind the attack, the FBI and others indicated that the individuals responsible for the crime appeared to have intimate knowledge of Sony Pictures' network.
Norse Security's latest findings implicate at least one former technical engineer at the studio, an individual who has the knowledge necessary to make a swift and decisive strike against Sony Pictures' most sensitive bits. Kurt Stammberger, a senior vice president at Norse, said his company plans to share its findings with the FBI, leaving the path forward in the hands of the bureau.
"They're the investigators," Stammberger says. "We're going to show them our data and where it points us. As far as whether it is proof that would stand up in a court of law? That's not our job to determine, it is [up to the FBI.]"