Sony’s upcoming comedy “The Interview,” which opens Christmas Day, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen as hapless assassins sent to North Korea to off leader Kim Jong Un, has been anything but a laughing matter for the beleaguered studio.
Since the hacking scandal that many think is the direct result of Sony’s decision to go through with the controversial film, the studio has been in PR triage, and there are even predictions that Sony co-chair Amy Pascal will be fired for her leaked racist emails. So the question that begs to be asked is, what’s the box-office forecast for the comedy that even execs at Sony think is “desperately unfunny” and features the exploding head of North Korea’s leader (played by Randall Park)? What film in recent memory -- much less a Rogen/Franco comedy -- has generated this much hullabaloo, possibly even sparking an international incident?
Box Office Mojo forecasts that "The Interview" will make around $90 million. It calculated this by balancing the positive of hitmaker Seth Rogen’s ("Neighbors") participation with the negative of the not terribly promising history of “comedies with geopolitical commentary” such as “Team America: World Police” (which also featured a North Korean dictator – Kim Jong Il, the current leader's late father) and Sacha Baron Cohen’s box-office bomb “The Dictator." Rogen and Franco have teamed up before, in "Pineapple Express" and "This Is the End," which made $87.3 million and $101.5 million, respectively.
And even if "The Interview" earns $90 million at the box office, it would have to make a lot more to recoup the financial losses Sony has incurred since the hacking scandal, which Business Insider reports may cost the company at least $100 million for the investigation, the repair or replacement of its computers, prevention measures and loss of productivity.
But even a $90 million prediction would be sunny. In leaked emails obtained by Defamer between U.K. Sony Pictures exec Peter Taylor to president of Sony Pictures Releasing International Steven O’Dell, Taylor reviews "The Interview," which was co-written and co-directed by Rogen, and his review is scathing:
"The unanimous point of view here is that this is another misfire from the pairing. Apart from one or two moments where the comedy worked (the Eminem piece was excellent), it remained desperately unfunny and repetitive and once again, for the last 20 minutes, stopped being a comedy altogether, with a level of realistic violence that would be shocking in a horror movie. ... James Franco proves once again that irritation is his strong suit, which is a shame because the character could have been appealing and funny out of his hands.”
Perhaps, then, some viewers will want front-row seats simply to hate-watch the movie.
Or, depending on how many people are clamoring to see Meryl Streep as a fairy tale witch in "Into the Woods"; the Angelina Jolie-directed war drama "Unbroken"; the Russian drama "Leviathan"; or the Tim Burton-directed biopic about kitsch artist Margaret Keane,"Big Eyes" -- all of which open Christmas Day, as well -- "The Interview" has a chance to make up for a tiny portion of all the trouble it has created for Sony.