Rachel Fox, movie programmer at the independent Rio Theatre in Vancouver, wanted to book the The Interview for a run long before the hack on Sony Pictures and the brouhaha involving North Korea. In fact, right up until the week before Christmas, she thought they would be able to book the film. “Then,” she says, “things got really crazy.”
Five days before Christmas, Sony told The Rio that they weren’t getting the film. The theatre showed The Hobbit instead.
As the mega company of Sony was wading into unchartered waters, grappling with hacker threats of violence at theaters that showed the film, they were literally taking things hour by hour. Considering that the studio had already spent $44 million making the film, and another $35 million marketing it, they stood to lose 150 to 200 million dollars by holding back the release.
As you can see in the timeline, on Christmas Eve Sony released the film on a number of different internet platforms. Rachel Fox applauds the growing power of independent cinemas in this time of crisis: “Three hundred independent venues in the U.S. came together and said ‘F- you North Korea, we’re showing the movie on Christmas Day!’” It really wasn’t as though people were all so keen to actually see the film. “It was a political statement for people to go and see it… an instant collective moment.”
Finally, 2 weeks after 27 cities across Canada showed the film, The Rio got a hold of it. In no small way due to a last ditch pitch to the head of Sony Canada by Ms. Fox. On Monday, January 5th, Rachel made an impassioned plea for, “the home town of Seth Rogen, where the film was made, where all the people who worked on the film could finally see it!” It worked.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that The Rio had already booked The Interview before Christmas and had to replace it with The Hobbit. The theatre did not have a confirmed booking with Sony, but were informed before Christmas that it would not be made available.