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'The Interview' makes over $15 million in online sales, pirated as much as paid for

"We worked hard to get the film out there by Christmas Day," says Sony Pictures president of worldwide distribution.

By Matt Bradwell
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'The Interview' makes over $15 million in online sales, pirated as much as paid for
A poster of "The Interview" is displayed inside the lobby of the Los Feliz theater in Los Angeles on December 24, 2014, where Vintage Cinemas has scheduled four showings of the controversial movie on Christmas Day. After initially balking at a planned Christmas Day release in the face.of threats of violence by computer hackers who crippled the Culver City-based studio in late November, Sony on Tuesday announced the film would have a limited theatrical release starting Christmas Day, as well as a video-on-demand.availability. About 300 theaters across the country will be showing the movie on Christmas Day.. UPI/Jim Ruymen | License Photo

HOLLYWOOD, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Sony Pictures' The Interview generated over $15 million in online sales, the studio announced Monday.

The controversial comedy was also illegally pirated nearly as much as it was paid for, according to torrent tracking services.

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The nearly-unreleased film is available on various online platforms for a $5.99 rental fee or $14.99 digital purchase following the Sony hacking scandal and subsequent terrorist threats.

"Through Saturday, December 27, including all of its online distribution platforms, The Interview has been rented or purchased online more than 2 million times," Sony Pictures announced in a statement.

The film's $15 million in revenue beat out previous record holder and critical darling Arbitrage to become Sony Pictures' most successful digital release. Yahoo! Finance reported that the number swelled to $18 million by the end of the weekend.

"We worked hard to get the film out there by Christmas Day," Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures president of worldwide distribution, 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."

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While $15 million may seem successful for a film that was almost never released, The Interview has a long way to go to recoup the $75 million it cost to make.

Recouping those costs may prove difficult, as, according to Torrent Freak, The Interview was illegally downloaded 1.5 million times through Sunday. Viewers didn't even need to be as tech savvy those who search for illegal torrents of the film -- anyone who paid for the rental on YouTube could easily share the file with others.

Sony Pictures may be embracing the "just get it out there" model for the film, as, if rented from Sony's official website for The Interview, viewers are provided with a link to share with friends that allows them to view it for free.

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