The $44 million film was pulled from wide release after major U.S. movie chains balked at showing the movie owing to security concerns, and it was instead shown at some 320 smaller theaters in the United States, less than 10 percent of its planned wide release.
“Considering the incredibly challenging circumstances, we are extremely grateful to the people all over the country who came out to experience ‘The Interview’ on the first day of its unconventional release,” Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures president of distribution, said in a statement.
Sony Pictures had suffered a crippling cyberattack blamed on North Korea because of the movie, a raunchy comedy by Seth Rogen that depicts the fictional assassination of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.
“The Interview” was expected to gross at least $20 million over the long holiday weekend if in wide release, according to Boxoffice.com.
The studio pulled the film from theaters last week after the biggest U.S. and Canada cinema chains said they would not screen the film owing to unspecified threats made by hackers.
Sony Pictures on Tuesday gave in to public criticism that it had caved into hackers and said that it would distribute the film in limited release in independent theaters.
On Wednesday, the studio released the film online via Google Inc’s YouTube and Google Play, Microsoft Corp’s Xbox gaming console and Sony’s own dedicated website.
The U.S. government has blamed Pyongyang for the attack, and President Barack Obama has vowed a proportional response. -Reuters