Over the past 24 hours, The Interview has dominated the pop culture landscape, as the situation dealing with the film's release has gone from bad to worse. Indeed, Sony's decision to drop the film's Christmas Day release date is one that has sent shockwaves running throughout the entertainment world, with untold costs waiting to be incurred by said decision. At least, those costs were untold until now.
Variety has an exclusive rundown on just how much failing to release The Interview will cost Sony, and it's a hefty $75 million. Now keep in mind, that figure is mostly made up of the $44 million budget that The Interview rang up during production. However, the more surprising part of the equation is the estimated $30 million Sony and Columbia put out to market the film. If you're ever curious as to why films have to make the "budget and a half" figure to make a profit, look no further than the advertising expenses.
Of course, this $75 million figure is probably a conservative estimate, considering the fact that there has been no legal action proposed on the behest of anyone involved in the production of The Interview - especially Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Evan Goldberg, who may have some sort of back-end deal that provides them with a share of the profits that would have been made by the film's theatrical release. Also, the reported figure Variety mentioned doesn't factor in the initial pay day Rogen and Franco took home for the film. As if that wasn't enough liability on Sony's plate, there's always the backlash that the company's investors might raise against not only not releasing The Interview, but by deciding to make it in the first place.
Indeed, some shareholders will be more upset with the fact that thanks to the film's now scuttled Christmas Day launch date, Sony has lost its most recent (and probably best) chance to make some of the money they desperately need over in the entertainment division. Also, it wouldn't be a surprise that some of the company's investors would have seen this film as a big risk, which would mean that this would be a nice opportunity for those parties to tell Sony I told you so, and to a tune of their own financial satisfaction.
At this point, Sony's decision to nix a VOD launch of the film might seem like an easy idea to overturn, and it probably sounds like a smart one. Unfortunately, it's still not going to happen, at least for the time being. The reasoning is that even if Sony wanted to release The Interview on VOD, media analysts like Tom Adams (who is cited in Variety's piece) predict that, "as a premium VOD title without a theatrical run, it would be almost impossible to make the money back." Considering how DVD and Blu-ray sales aren't what they used to be, and VOD charges aren't as multiplied by audience numbers as theatrical grosses are, there seems to be very little to no chance of The Interview making the money it should make. The only option for this film to be a viable profit to the studio is for a theatrical release.
Maybe we'll get lucky and the situation will somehow sort itself to a point where The Interview can be seen in a theater near you. While it doesn't seem like it now, the situation with the "Guardians Of Peace" could be resolved at a later date, and the film could make its way onto the big screen. For now, though, it looks like The Interview is going to join the ranks of The Day The Clown Died, as it sits completed and ready for an audience that may never have the chance to see it.