Apple adds ‘The Interview’ to iTunes Store as movie grosses $18 million in opening weekend

“Sony Pictures said ‘The Interview’ has earned more than $15 million in online sales and another $2.8 million in theaters, an impressive return made possible by the publicity surrounding the cyberattack blamed on North Korea,” Liana B. Baker and Mary Milliken report for Reuters.

“The studio said on Sunday the film had been purchased or rented online more than 2 million times on the four days through Saturday, making it Sony Pictures’ No. 1 online movie of all time,” Baker and Milliken report. “‘That is a huge number,’ said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations. ‘This is almost what it was going to do theatrically before it was pulled. It made about what people expected, but in a completely different way.’ The $44 million film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco had been expected to gross at least $20 million in its opening holiday weekend if it had gone to wide release, according to Boxoffice.com.”

“It was still unclear whether Sony, which is still struggling with the impact of the cyberattack, would recoup the money it spent to make the film and the $30 million or $40 million in estimated marketing costs,” Baker and Milliken report. “But in a sign of the film’s power and place in the cultural debate, Apple Inc. said on Sunday it plans to carry the movie for rental and purchase on iTunes, the biggest and most-popular online content store. ‘The Apple component will be significant,’ said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at tracking firm Rentrak. ‘I’ve heard anecdotes of people who have never downloaded a movie on iTunes doing that for this movie.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s iTunes Store should’ve had The Interview available immediately upon its release, but once again we’re stuck repeating what is becoming Apple’s unfortunate mantra under Tim Cook: Better late than never*.

Major mistake [not offering “The Interview” on opening day] – unless Apple wants to continue to ignore Apple TV. This is free promotion! Apple should stand up for artists’ freedom of expression. They should be pouncing on this. Hopefully, their disinterest is only being feigned as a negotiating tactic. Do it, Apple. What are you going to lose, the vibrant North Korea market?MacDailyNews, December 24, 2014

Pulling the trigger is good. Pulling the trigger in a timely fashion is better.

*iMacs (late 2012, really early 2013), new Mac Pro, properly-sized iPhone displays, Apple Watch, MacBook Air with Retina display, Apple TV, music subscription service, etc.

Related articles:
Apple’s iTunes Store sits out Sony’s release of ‘The Interview’ – December 26, 2014
Sony Pictures to distribute “The Interview” online beginning Christmas Eve via Apple TV, dedicated website, Google Play, YouTube, and more – December 24, 2014
Will Apple put Sony’s ‘The Interview’ on Apple TV for Christmas? – December 24, 2014

30 Comments

  1. I’m going to paraphrase Gandalf from “The Fellowship of the Ring” regarding your perceived “lateness:”

    ‘Apple is never late, nor are they early. They arrive precisely when they mean to.’

      1. As if MacDailyNews (or anyone else) has anything approaching Apple’s budget.

        By the way, I emailed MDN: The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus version of their app is already in the works.

        1. What? It crashed throughout iOS 8 beta, they updated weeks after GM and it still isn’t iPhone 6 compatible? MDN bitched about the missing big screen iPhone and still haven’t updated the app? I am an iOS dev and am aware how little time is needed to make it iPhone 6/6 plus compatible. And I can also tell you that they don’t need Apples cash to do so! The reason the movie wasn’t added is because iTunes Connect shut down for the holiday period.

      2. One fact towers above all else, an inconvenient truth, as it were:

        If MDN were running Apple in this case, then the iTunes Store would have hadThe Interview upon release thereby prompting millions of first time iTunes Store rentals and purchases.

        1. Fortunately, Tim Cook made the right decision, and Apple played no part in Sony’s vulgar attempt at salvaging the company from a most embarrassing and catastrophic debacle. The movie is exceptionally lame and sophomoric and deserves none of the attention it has attracted. Sony played the PR game quite well over the past six days, turning ordinary movie watching experience into a patriotic duty, representing the good battle for free speech. Many Americans swallowed Sony’s line. Apple saw it for what it really was and didn’t bother. It just wasn’t worth the few extra newcomers to iTunes.

          1. No matter the content. The only issue is free speech. Apple, under Tim Cook, BLEW IT! Tim Cook, who shouts LGBT from the rooftops, should be a leader on free speech.

            1. There is no real free speech issue here; the only reason we’re talking about free speech here is because Sony told us so. No law enforcement, no government and no other entity prevented Sony from exercising their free speech. Sony made a business decision to not release a film in theatres, because releasing it carried a certain level of risk they weren’t willing to take. Then, in order to recover the money lost on that, they decide to do an online release (with a very limited theatrical engagement), and to promote that risk, they claim moral high ground by making it about free speech, and implying that watching this movie would be a patriotic duty.

              Apple did exactly right to STEER CLEAR of Sony’s underhanded marketing effort.

    1. Or to put it another way. “Apple is never late. Everyone else is too early.”

      I’ve been renting more movies from the iTunes Store lately, because I found out that I can buy $100 in “iTunes bucks” for $75 through PayPal on eBay (digital “gift card”), if you take advantage of specials offers that come up a few times a year. So a $6 rental is $4.75. Other denominations and lesser discounts also available; for example, I can currently buy a $50 iTunes (physical) gift card at Safeway for $40. And you can use the credit to buy songs and apps too (any digital media Apple sells). I have dealmac.com set up to notify me about those special offers, when they happen.

      My old Power Mac G5 running Leopard is attached to my HDTV (as its screen), and its significantly older version of iTunes can still rent and play HD movies perfectly.

  2. I may be wrong here but for all MDN goes on about Apple being late with a larger iPhone, I’m sure I read an MDN take on a Samsung large phone when it first came out a number of years ago in which MDN scoffed at larger phones and recommended Apple never jump on the bandwagon. I’ve done a search on this site to see if the ‘take’ is still here but can’t turn anything up. Can anyone else find/corroborate this take? There’s a biscuit in it for you if you do.

  3. Apple was right not to jump on the Sony bandwagon and facilitate Sony’s business.

    “The Interview” is a third-rate sophomoric comedy. One of many that came and went. It doesn’t have a message (human, political, social), it doesn’t address any issues, it really has no other value than very low-brow high-school and college-level entertainment value. There is nothing patriotic about watching this film, make no mistake about it. The only thing it does is helps Sony recover some money after this colossal security debacle. There was really no reason for Apple to rush into the first weekend (other than to collect 30% of the first-weekend gross).

    Sony has, in their infinite incompetency, managed to generate massive amount of buzz about this silly, insignificant little movie by tugging on everyone’s patriotism, by making what is usually regular business (releasing a film) a most patriotic and courageous gesture, the “last stand” in defense of freedom or speech.

    You may take it as you wish, but Apple clearly saw it for what it was and did it on their own schedule.

      1. MDN was wrong. Cook was right.

        There was nothing special in this film that should have compelled Apple to make a major exception here and make this film available. About the only possible thing would have been the promotional value; because of Sony’s skillful patriotism play, many people have decided to watch the film online, and it could have been a way to promote iTunes as a platform for watching movies. Still, the decision was a correct one, since the value of the film itself, all the publicity that was kicked up around it, and the type of audience to which this genre of film usually plays are not exactly what Apple usually associates itself with.

        This film became popular for all the wrong reasons; had there been a normal release, without all the surrounding noise (and hacking), it would have likely flopped at the box office. This way, it well may recover the money spent on it (and perhaps even make enough for the clean-up in the aftermath of the hacking). Sony has managed to turn this colossal debacle of cataclysmic proportion into a profitable adventure. Apple really didn’t need to be a part of that, and it wasn’t. Now that the opening weekend is over, it no longer matters, and Apple may well even get the film.

  4. The MDN take nails it. Yet again, Tim Cook puts Apple on the trailing edge of a wave.
    MDN didn’t even mention the MacBook Pros that were late for back-to-school in 2013.
    If you think Apple is successful now, think what it would be if it could get its products to market on time. Fire Tim Cook.

    1. I agree that the timely delivery of products (“Available Today”) was one of Apple’s great strengths. That seems to have been prioritized lower than marketing and promotional efforts…. “Available Early Next Year”.

      1. For new product categories, that wasn’t any different under Jobs. iPhone was announced in January, to be available in JUNE!

        New iPhone iterations come out about a week after the announcement; they weren’t any faster under Jobs.

        1. As I recall, the original iPhone was always scheduled for a June release, but had to be submitted in January to the FCC (?) for approval. Since this would have let the cat out of the bag Apple decided to pre-empt the problem by announcing early.

          1. That has been the excuse for both the original iPhone, as well as for the iWatch (the FCC submission and review). In reality, it was a way to lock up the market and build pent-up demand. The announcement severely affected Blackberry, Palm, Microsoft and other mobile makers who were selling email-enabled phones at the time, and created red-hot buzz about the iPhone. Even if there was not FCC requirement, Jobs would have likely made an exception and announced the device months early.

            Similar thing happened the following year; iOS SDK was released a few months before the new OS was officially released (together with the new model, the 3G). In the months since SDK came out, tens of thousands of independently developed apps appeared on the App Store, well before a single iPhone user was ever able to get any one of them. By the time the new OS and the App Store were released to the public, there was a large marketplace with thousands of apps (more than Palm or MS had for their decade-old platforms) ready for users.

  5. MDN was a little harsh but admittedly agree Apple should of announced right away we are having on iTunes and even perhaps even offered even a $X OFF coupon for current iTune users and a $X coupon for new users …..

    Apple would of been go to place and what would all that publicly cost them – not much if anything, I’m “thunking” …..

    Unfortunately a missed opportunity in my mind but only my opinion!

  6. I watched ‘The Interview’ for free (with ads shoved in) over at DailyMotion.com a couple days back. It was both dull, poorly thought out and forgettable. It’s great to dream about burning the hell the world’s currently more ridiculous ‘god’ totalitarian dictator (setting aside PootyPoot). But it wasn’t a worthy premise for a film and only made the film mean spirited and, to be extra honest, ignorant of the actual situation.

    Enough of me playing at being movie reviewer.

    The BIG message of this movie is: What a bunch of IDIOTS the ‘GOP’ are for attempting to kill this film but instead turning it into one of the GREATEST examples of ‘The Streisand Effect’. Well done, you dummies. Well done indeed, whoever you are.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

  7. since Apple alwYs shuts down for two weeks at Christmas, I suspect the company needed extra time to check out the security issues and threats to the company if they took this action. And they probably had to get key people back to work to properly add new content during a holiday.

  8. So videos depicting the assassination of a non-USA leader is ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘1st amendment rights’, but if someone has an instruction video on how to kill a US leader that would lead to a one-way ticket to Guantanamo Bay, not calls for ‘freedom of expression’. /s

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