The Sony Pictures comedy The Interview took in $15 million from Video on Demand online streaming through Saturday, making the film the studio’s most profitable online release ever.
The controversial film, which depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was rented or downloaded over two million times, according to Variety. The film also grossed $1.8 million in its first weekend of release at 331 independent movie theaters and has grossed roughly $3 million to date.
The film’s receipts are welcome news for Sony, which reportedly spent around $75 million to produce the film. Sony is on track to recoup half of its investment in the film.
The studio had initially scrapped the comedy after the hacking group Guardians of Peace, responsible for a November 24 cyberattack that crippled the studio’s servers, had threatened “9-11” style terror attacks against theaters that agreed to screen the film. When the nation’s top five theater chains balked, Sony pulled the film from its Christmas Day release and projected a $100 million write-off.
After President Obama slammed Sony’s decision to pull the film, the studio agreed to let independent theaters show the film, eventually signing up 331 theaters to screen it. On Christmas Eve, Sony announced they would release the film through online outlets YouTube, Xbox, and Google Play.
“We worked hard to get the film out there by Christmas Day,” Sony Pictures worldwide distribution head Rory Bruer told Variety. “It was such a whirlwind to get it done that it kind of amazes me that we were able to make it happen.”
In addition to its impressive online returns, the film has also been downloaded illegally at least 1.5 million times since its appearance on file-sharing websites shortly after its release.
North Korea has denied its involvement in the cyberattack against Sony Pictures that led to the film’s cancellation. On Saturday, an unidentified North Korean official blamed President Obama for the film’s release.