It seems hard to remember, but less than a month ago the world was obsessed with comedian Seth Rogen’s latest comedy The Interview. The comedy focused on assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a satire that many didn’t take lightly. A radical hacking by the group Guardians of Peace (G.O.P.) ended up causing Sony a lot of problems with threats of personal informaion going public. The film came out, and in less than a month it disappeared with no fanfare. In fact, it is making news this week for a reason that is rather shocking. It is coming to Netflix after its release just last month.
It is unprecedented for a film of this caliber to go straight to video on demand (V.O.D.). With a large production budget, inflated thanks to marketing, the film can both be considered a flop and a success in light of what happened. After G.O.P. threatened to bomb theaters, the film went to V.O.D., thus making it the highest profile V.O.D. release to date with most of the average competition being indie dramas such as Snowpiercer and The One I Love. While it has done wonders to help the smaller films, it looks like it did not do The Interview any favors, especially with the inevitable presence of piracy and many people’s disinterest in the film, which featured plenty of juvenile jokes. However, there was a difference between paying an average theater price and seeing it for cheaper online.
Considering these limitations, the film was a success, raising plenty of attention to a growing medium, though it failed to make back its budget. The film currently has racked in $40 million in V.O.D. sales through systems like Youtube and Google Play, which is a very impressive number. However, with many expecting it to have made more than double this in a theatrical run, the limited release pulled in a paltry six million on 331 screens. Considering that there were terrorist threats and many questioning their safety, the film turned out pretty well for itself.
Still, its recent deal with Netflix is rather unexpected and will hopefully allow many more to see it. Despite the initial fervor that made seeing The Interview a patriotic duty in many minds, things have dropped off with the film, being on a shortlist for a potential batch of Razzie nominations. Many mistook the comedy as deep political commentary, and were thus dissatisfied by the numerous rectal references that made up the running time. With the film being released on Dec. 24, its appearance on Netflix on Jan. 24 is a rather shocking and impressive move that isn’t even done by the most successful of V.O.D. hits.
There’s a sense that The Interview is accepting its fate as somewhat of a public flop. Yes, it was attached to an unfortunate Sony hack and people were upset when it didn’t assault North Korea in an insightful way. Still, what serves as a decent comedy for fans of Rogen’s stoner humor actually is getting an unfair backlash. Then again, maybe they should not have directly targeted a public figure who got mad that the weather forecast was not to his liking. For all of the prominent points the film makes, it was headed for trouble, and thus it has placed it in the financial condition it is in. The film will likely be rooted more in infamy than satirical ingenuity at this point.
Review By Thomas Willett