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Cancellation of ‘The Interview’ Expected to Cost Sony More than $100 Million

James Franco and Seth Rogen pose during premiere of the film "The Interview" in Los Angeles

Sony Pictures Entertainment is expected to suffer $104 million worth of losses as a result of its cancellation of the release of its new film “The Interview”, data-driven blog FiveThirtyEight said.

The studio announced Wednesday that it will pull the planned Dec. 25 theatrical release of the film, an action-comedy that stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as madcap would-be assassins of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The film was the apparent inspiration for a widespread and embarrassing hack of Sony’s servers that U.S. intelligence officials think may have been initiated by the North Korean government, the blog said.

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Sony said it has no further release plans for “The Interview, ” including on DVD or video on demand.

Nate Silver, founder of FiveThirtyEight, said in his article that he reached the figure of $104 million by analyzing 22 films released under normal circumstances that were tagged as action-comedies by IMDb, rated R like “The Interview” and released in 2000 or later by a major or what he called a “mini-major” American studio. IMDb is an online database of information on films, actors and television shows and is one of the most popular online entertainment destinations.

On average, the 22 comparable films made $114 million at the box office, although with a wide range, from $800, 000 for 2005’s “Feast” to $352 million for 2003’s “Bad Boys II, ” the article said.

Those movies aren’t always critical favorites but audiences like them and their combination of action sequences and slapstick humor can travel well, sometimes garnering them more box office revenue internationally than in the United States, Silver said.

FiveThirtyEight is a data journalism site devoted to rigorous analysis of politics, polling, public affairs, sports, economics, science and culture.

Meanwhile, a December 18 article on the website suggested making “The Interview” available through video-on-demand or via streaming services, such as iTunes or Amazon On Demand, saying that Sony might still be able to recoup some cash on the picture, and that the film’s new notoriety would likely make it a hit.

It also claimed that many people who might not have wanted to see the film before are now dying to watch it, not out of curiosity but rather as a matter of defiance, saying that the notion that hackers from North Korea could control what movies U.S. audiences see is outrageous.




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