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The Interview makes over $15 million online, beating movie theaters

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The Interview did far better online than it did in its limited theatrical release. Sony Pictures has revealed that the film pulled in over $15 million over the holiday weekend from online purchases and rentals alone in the US and Canada. The studio has also announced that the film has already been rented or purchased over 2 million times.

That handily beats the estimated $2.8 million the film earned over the same time period in theaters. However, only a relatively small sampling of independent theaters carried the film — had the major theater chains been willing to show The Interview, these numbers would likely be very different.

Sources tell The Verge that the vast majority of the film's sales came through YouTube and Google Play Movies. The film was also available on Xbox Video and a dedicated Sony website, and as of this afternoon, Apple's iTunes Store. The figures reported by Sony today only include sales through Saturday, so the final weekend count will be a bit larger.

Vast majority of sales came from YouTube and Google Play

The comedy's box office numbers — online and off — are being closely monitored, as the drama surrounding the film turned it into an impromptu early test of how viewers will respond to a movie that's released online the same day it hits theaters. Studios have long resisted such release schedules out of fears that online distribution — both legal and illegal — will cut into lucrative ticket sales.

In a statement, the studio notes that in the four days since its release, the film already "ranks as Sony Pictures #1 online film of all time." It's not clear how this ranking is being made, though certainly no other major Sony film has been released simultaneously online and in theaters.