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Pulling The Interview will probably lose Sony $20 million in box office revenue

Seth Rogen and James Franco had the only R-Rated comedy slated for Christmas debut
Seth Rogen and James Franco had the only R-Rated comedy slated for Christmas debut
Cindy Ord/Getty Images
  1. Sony announced yesterday that it will pull The Interview from theaters on Christmas Day, after most major movie theater chains pulled their support.
  2. The Interview was the only R-rated comedy with a December 25 release date.
  3. Sony will probably lose at least $20 million dollars of opening weekend revenue.

What the Christmas Day Box Office will look like

Most of the other Christmas releases are family-friendly films. Three other movies are opening to wide release on Christmas Day: Into the Woods, a star-studded musical featuring Meryl Streep; Unbroken, Angelina Jolie's drama; and The Gambler, a crime drama.

Of course, movies released before Christmas will still be in theaters. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and Annie will all be in their second week of release and could do well at the box-office. In addition, Reese Witherspoon's Wild and Benedict Cumberbatch's The Imitation Game (both Oscar nominee prospects) will see their releases expand on Christmas.

That's a lot of great movie options on a day American families historically turn up at the theaters. What's interesting, though, is how wide-open the playing field would have been for The Interview. Even though the movie wasn't reviewed well by early critics, it was the only movie on this list that was R-rated and a comedy. The Interview promised absurdity, some violence, and a good amount of crude humor.

What the box office will lose

The Hollywood Reporter wrote that The Interview as expected to rake in somewhere between $20 and 25 million on its debut weekend. That's 5 million more than Horrible Bosses 2, the last R-rated comedy to debut this holiday season. Sony's main other project in the market right now is Annie, not a film that will have much overlap with the Interview audience.

"I think pulling it completely has the impact of pretty much wiping that revenue out of the mix because there really is no other R-rated comedy that's going to attract that audience. This was it," says analyst Ben Spergel, executive VP of consumer insights at C4, told The Hollywood Reporter.

If a group of friends or a family with grown children were schlepping to the theater on Christmas to see James Franco and Seth Rogen make fools of themselves, they probably aren't going to be interested in a serious drama or a family-friendly comedy. That demographic, then, is completely lost, adding to the unknown amount Sony will lose by pulling the movie.