Sony Pictures has some new stats it can brag about thanks to the studio releasing its film The Interview online. The Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy about the assassination of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is now the top-selling movie on YouTube and Google Play, and has garnered over 243,000 subscribers for Sony’s YouTube channel.
A Google spokesperson confirmed The Interview has become the highest-selling video-on-demand movie from 2014 on YouTube Movies and Google Play in both Canada and the United States. This honor was driven by the fact that the film grossed roughly $15 million in online sales from over 2 million downloads within four days of its release (despite the film also receiving a large number of illegal downloads). Sony Pictures also verified the Rogen-Franco comedy is now its #1 online film in terms of sales.
Sony saw a decisive and overwhelming increase in subscribers to its Home Entertainment YouTube channel, likely driven by interest in The Interview. VentureBeat notes that on December 23, 2014 (the day before The Interview was released online), Sony’s channel had about 173,000 subscribers. However, in just three days’ time, the channel gained over 243,000 new subscribers to hit more than 416,000 on December 26. And that number count is still going up; Sony’s channel now has around 572,000 subscribers as of this writing.
The last-minute decision by Sony to put The Interview online definitely stemmed from unusual circumstances. Online video fans (as well as YouTube and Google Play) shouldn’t come to expect this type of film release via movie studios in the future. In fact, many people still went to the movie theater to see the comedy, as Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at research firm Rentrak Corp., pointed out to Bloomberg.
“There was a shift, where a lot of people had no choice but to get the film online,” he said. “The instantaneous delivery of content made it possible for Sony to change up the playbook at the 11th hour.”