Before 'The Interview,' other films performed well on VOD

Before 'The Interview,' other films performed well on VOD
"Snowpiercer" made about $8.3 million on VOD this year, almost twice as much as it did at the box office in the U.S. and Canada, where it grossed $4.5 million. Above, Chris Evans, center, as Curtis and Jamie Bell as Edgar in a scene from the movie. (Radius-TWC)

Sony garnered a lot of media attention after its controversial comedy "The Interview" pulled in an unprecedented $15 million from video-on-demand platforms in four days.

The film, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, is about the fictionalized assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Though it was originally intended as a wide-release film, Sony axed those plans Dec. 17 after hackers threatened violence against moviegoers, and most exhibitors declined to screen the film.

Instead, the studio distributed the comedy in 331 independent theaters (beginning on Christmas Day) and on video-on-demand platforms including Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft's Xbox Video and a stand-alone website (beginning Christmas Eve).

Through Saturday, the film has been rented or purchased online more than 2 million times, Sony reported. It has made $2.8 million at the box office to date.

But Sony is not the first studio to try an untraditional online roll-out for a film. Here's a roundup of other -- mostly indie -- films that have had similar video-on-demand releases:

"Margin Call"

The low-budget Wall Street drama, distributed by Roadside Attractions, debuted in theaters in October 2011.

Three weeks after its theatrical release, Roadside Attractions co-President Howard Cohen told The Times that "based literally on the first three days of VOD ... my sense is that a comparable number of sales were made on VOD as movie tickets sold in the same three days." 

It went on to make $5.4 million at the domestic box office.


Purchased by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, the crime drama grossed about $8 million at the box office but nearly $14 million on VOD. The 2012 film stars Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon.


The dark comedy, starring Kristen Dunst, made under $500,000 at the domestic box office following its September 2012 release.

However, the film, released by the Weinstein Co.'s Radius-TWC label, made about $8.3 million on VOD.


The sci-fi film, also released by the Weinstein Co.'s Radius-TWC label, stars Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. It hit VOD just two weeks after being released in theaters June 27.

It made about $8.25 million on VOD, almost twice as much as it did at the box office in the U.S. and Canada, where it grossed $4.5 million.

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