Sony Cancels Release of “The Interview”

Dec 17, 2014 at 5:37 PM ET

Game over, Sony.

Vocativ reported on Wednesday morning Landmark Cinema’s decision to cancel the New York City premiere of The Interview, which had been scheduled for Thursday evening, after a group of hackers by the name “Guardians of the Peace” threatened moviegoers in an anonymous online post. But in an unfortunate turn of events for the entertainment conglomerate, theater chains throughout the country fell like dominoes. The three largest American movie theater chains—Regal, AMC and Cinemark—as well as Cineplex, the top theater chain in Canada, canceled screenings of the film.

So Sony gave up.

After the theaters backed out, Sony officially canceled The Interview‘s release on Dec. 25—a move that isn’t surprising. After months of ramping up to the controversial movie’s release on Christmas Day, the top chains’ decision to pull out would have been a massive blow to Sony and box-office sales.

According to The Wall Street Journal, there are roughly 40,000 total movie screens in the United States. AMC, Regal, Cinemark and Carmike (Carmike canceled screening plans on Tuesday, the Verge reported) account for 18,000 of those screens. So for some quick back-of-the-envelope math, if we estimate that the average movie theater seats roughly 250 people (that’s on the low end) and the average ticket price is $8—with Sony pocketing 55 percent of every ticket sold (typical cut for movie studios)—that equals a whopping $19.8 million loss in ticket sales for the cancellation of just one showing of The Interview across those 18,000 screens.

“The ability of our guests to enjoy the entertainment they choose in safety and comfort is and will continue to be a priority for theater owners,” the National Association of Theater Owners said in a press release regarding the cancellation of The Interview screenings. “We are encouraged that the authorities have made progress in their investigation and we look forward to the time when the responsible criminals are apprehended.”

The threat that sparked this snowball effect in the film’s cancellation was posted yesterday to the website Pastebin and referenced the Sept. 11 attacks. It came roughly four weeks after the Sony hack began, which has been speculated to be in response to Sony’s decision to release the film, which depicts the assassination of North Korean leader King Jong Un.

Sony released a statement that said: “We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater goers.”