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UPDATED: Sony Cancels Christmas Day Release of 'The Interview', No VOD Relase Planned on December 17, 2014

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Update #3: In an official statement, Sony revealed that there are no further plans for the release of The Interview. This puts an end to the speculation that a VOD release could be an alternative to the cancelled theatrical run.

Update #2: Sony has cancelled the Christmas Day release of The Interview. Here's the official statement:"In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners' decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.

Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale - all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."

Update #1: Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are both writing that Regal, AMC, Cinemark, Carmike and Cineplex will not be playing The Interview in theaters. 

Other chains that will not play the film include B&B Theatres, Bow Tie Cinemas, Arclight Cinemas and Classic Cinemas. 

Earlier today, the National Association of Theatre Owners sent the following statement:

"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. While we do not discuss security procedures or policies, NATO members are working closely with the appropriate security and law enforcement agencies. 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. Until that happens, individual cinema operators may decide to delay exhibition of the movie so that our guests may enjoy a safe holiday movie season experiencing the many other exciting films we have to offer."


About NATO
The National Association of Theatre Owners is the largest exhibition trade organization in the world, representing more than 32,000 movie screens in all 50 states, and additional cinemas in 81 countries worldwide.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with a second office in North Hollywood, California, NATO represents its members in the heart of the nation's capital as well as the center of the entertainment industry. From these vantage points, NATO helps exhibition influence federal policy-making and work with movie distributors on all areas of mutual concern, from new technologies to legislation, marketing, and First Amendment issues. www.natoonline.org

NORTH AMERICA: 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' Claims $2.21M on Tuesday on December 17, 2014

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By Daniel Garris

Fox's Exodus: Gods and Kings grossed $2.21 million on Tuesday to lead the daily box office for a fifth straight day. The pricey Ridley Scott directed biblical epic starring Christian Bale will obviously fall to second place today with the release of Warner's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (which has already grossed an estimated $11.2 million from Tuesday late night shows that will be counted towards Wednesday). Exodus: Gods and Kings was up a modest 12 percent over Monday's performance, as it was already feeling the impact from The Battle of the Five Armies on Tuesday. The film has grossed $28.29 million in five days. That is on the low end of pre-release expectations and places the film a lackluster 2 percent behind the $28.86 million five-day start of Son of God earlier this year.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 held steady in second place with $1.37 million. The third installment of Lionsgate's blockbuster franchise was up 23 percent over Monday and down a healthy 23 percent from last Tuesday. Mockingjay - Part 1 has grossed $279.37 million through 26 days of release. That makes the film the second highest grossing release of 2014 thus far domestically and places it 22.5 percent behind the $360.35 million 26-day take of last year's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Paramount's Interstellar took in $0.657 million to remain in third. The Christopher Nolan directed sci-fi film was up 26 percent over Monday and down a slim 20 percent from last Tuesday. While Interstellar has been holding up nicely as of late, the film is now likely to take a hit from losing IMAX screens to The Battle of the Five Armies. Interstellar has grossed $167.93 million after 40 days of wide release and has performed significantly stronger overseas.

Warner's Horrible Bosses 2 was up one spot and 23 percent over Monday to claim fourth on Tuesday with $0.621 million. The under-performing comedy sequel was down 34 percent from last Tuesday. Horrible Bosses 2 has grossed a disappointing $44.71 million through three weeks of release.

Living up to its name, Paramount's Top Five rounded out Tuesday's top five with $0.585 million. The critically acclaimed comedy starring and directed by Chris Rock was up 12 percent and down one spot from Monday. Top Five is performing towards the low end of expectations with a five-day start of $7.99 million. The low-budget film will hope to see its strong critical reviews transfer into strong word of mouth going forward.

Computer animated films Penguins of Madagascar and Big Hero 6 claimed sixth and seventh place for the day with respective daily takes of $0.550 million and $0.489 million. Both films experienced healthy daily increases yesterday, as Fox's Penguins of Madagascar was up 42 percent over Monday and Disney's Big Hero 6 was up 30 percent. Respective current total grosses stand at a strong $186.10 million for Big Hero 6 in 40 days and at an underwhelming $59.68 million for Penguins of Madagascar in 21 days.

NORTH AMERICA: 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' Continues to Rule on Monday with $1.97M on December 16, 2014

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By Daniel Garris

Fox's Exodus: Gods and Kings took in $1.97 million on Monday to lead the daily box office for a fourth consecutive day. The pricey Ridley Scott directed biblical epic starring Christian Bale fell 67 percent from Sunday. Exodus: Gods and Kings is performing on the low end of expectations, but is off to a lackluster start nonetheless, especially with its price tag and likely front-loading in mind. The film has grossed $26.09 million in four days. That places Exodus: Gods and Kings 4 percent behind the $27.07 million four-day start of the much less expensive Son of God earlier this year.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 placed in second on Monday with $1.11 million. The third installment of Lionsgate's blockbuster franchise fell 65 percent from Sunday and a healthy 23 percent from last Monday. Mockingjay - Part 1 has grossed $277.99 million through 25 days of release. That makes the film the second highest grossing release of 2014 thus far domestically and places it 22.5 percent behind the $358.82 million 25-day take of last year's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Paramount's Interstellar took third place on Monday with $0.523 million. The Christopher Nolan directed sci-fi film was down 65 percent from Sunday and down only 19.5 percent from last Monday. While Interstellar has been holding up nicely as of late, the film is likely to take a big hit this week from losing IMAX screens to Warner's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Interstellar has grossed $167.28 million after 39 days of wide release.

Fellow Paramount release Top Five followed very closely behind in fourth with $0.518 million. The critically acclaimed comedy starring and directed by Chris Rock was down 66 percent from Sunday. Top Five is performing towards the low end of expectations with a four-day start of $7.41 million. The film will hope to see its strong critical reviews transfer into strong word of mouth going forward. Paramount will be expanding the film into additional locations over the next two weeks.

Warner's Horrible Bosses 2 rounded out the day's top five with $0.507 million. The under-performing comedy sequel was down 55 percent from Sunday and down 30 percent from last Monday. The 20-day total for Horrible Bosses 2 stands at just $44.09 million.

Facebook Watch - 'Minions' Continues To Dominate Facebook on December 16, 2014

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By Alex Edghill

For the second week in a row its been relatively quiet on Facebook in terms of like increases, and just like last week these wacky Minions came out on top by a healthy margin. Their performance has really been remarkable since their first trailer debuted back in early November. Since then they have added close to 1.5 million new likes, bringing their total to over 27.5 million, the largest ever for a non-sequel. Ok so they are a spin off but they are not reusing Despicable Me's Facebook page which means all of its likes were earned by themselves. To put it into perspective, the most liked film franchise of all time on Facebook is Harry Potter with just over 75 million likes - but that has been around since the beginning of Facebook and is about a franchise that spawned 8 movies.  

The rest of the top five was taken up by other big franchises/names who are simply churning out their usual numbers - Insurgent, Cinderella, Furious 7  and Fifty Shades Of Grey. In other words not too much out of the ordinary with their presence here. Perhaps the bigger worry (especially in light of the underwhelming opening of Exodus: Gods And Kings) is that no December releases are in the top 5. The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies,  Unbroken, Into The Woods came in at 7th, 10th and 11th respectively with 57k, 31k and 25k like increases. Considering the lower totals for Unbroken and Into The Woods these increases aren't half bad but I can't help but think that The Hobbit getting just a .4% bump in likes in the week leading up to release is a foreshadowing of it not meeting the opening numbers of the previous two films domestically. The first two made around $1 billion each worldwide so its not like $800-$900 million here would see people out on the streets looking for work but on a year that is so starved for revenue at the box office it seems like nothing is having much upside.

Facebook Top 15 Movies by Like Increase for the Week Ending Sunday December 14th

Rank Release Movie Likes Previous Change % Change
1 07/10/15 Minions 27,544,841 27,297,259 247,582 0.91%
2 03/20/15 The Divergent Series: Insurgent 3,977,215 3,844,580 132,635 3.45%
3 03/13/15 Cinderella (2015) 12,847,704 12,719,730 127,974 1.01%
4 04/03/15 Furious 7 54,129,450 54,011,374 118,076 0.22%
5 02/13/15 Fifty Shades of Grey 6,751,439 6,660,874 90,565 1.36%

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NORTH AMERICA: Weekend Actuals: 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' Rules with Modest $24.1M; 'Top Five' Out of the Gates in Fourth with $6.9M on December 15, 2014

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By Daniel Garris

Fox's Exodus: Gods and Kings debuted in first place this weekend with $24.12 million. While the Ridley Scott directed epic starring Christian Bale did open on the low end of expectations, the film's opening weekend performance left a bit to be desired given the film's price tag and its high profile nature. Compared to recent high-profile biblical epics, Exodus: Gods and Kings debuted 45 percent below the $43.72 million start of Noah and 6 percent below the $25.60 million start of the far less expensive Son of God (neither of which had the advantage of higher priced 3D admissions). Given its December release date Exodus: Gods and Kings will likely hold up better going forward than both Noah and Son of God did. However, the film is also unlikely to display strong holding power given its lackluster critical reviews and the upcoming launch of Warner's highly anticipated The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on Wednesday.

Exodus: Gods and Kings opened with $8.87 million on Friday (which included an estimated $1.2 million from late night Thursday shows), increased 4 percent on Saturday to take in $9.25 million and declined 35 percent on Sunday to gross $6.00 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.72 to 1, which isn't the most encouraging early sign. Exodus: Gods and Kings received an underwhelming B- rating on CinemaScore.

After leading the box office with relative ease for three consecutive weeks, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 fell to second this weekend with $12.69 million. The third installment of Lionsgate's blockbuster franchise was down a respectable 42 percent from last weekend. In comparison, last year's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire fell 48 percent in its fourth weekend to gross $13.67 million (though it should be noted that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opened that weekend). The 24-day take for Mockingjay - Part 1 stands at $276.88 million. While Mockingjay - Part 1 is displaying slightly stronger holding power than Catching Fire, the film is still running 23 percent behind the massive $357.50 million 24-day gross of Catching Fire.

Paramount's Top Five debuted in fourth place with $6.89 million. The critically acclaimed comedy starring and directed by Chris Rock opened towards the lower end of expectations, though it should be reminded that the film's location count likely muted its potential a bit this weekend. Top Five opened in a modest 979 locations, which gave the film a promising per-location average of $7,043 for the frame. Top Five debuted 21.5 percent ahead of the $5.67 million start of the Chris Rock led I Think I Love My Wife back in 2007. Top Five will hope to see its strong critical reviews transfer into strong word of mouth going forward. Paramount will be expanding the film into additional locations over the next two weeks.

Top Five grossed $2.52 million on Friday, jumped 14 percent on Saturday to take in $2.88 million and fell 48 percent on Sunday to gross $1.50 million. That gave Top Five an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.74 to 1. The film's rating on CinemaScore will be released after the film expands into wider release.

Computer animated films Penguins of Madagascar and Big Hero 6 claimed third and fifth place respectively with weekend takes of $7.21 million and $6.06 million. Fox's Penguins of Madagascar was down 34 percent from last weekend, while Disney's Big Hero 6 was down a slim 25 percent. Both films likely got an extra boost this weekend from family audiences who wanted to catch either film before The Battle of the Five Armies, Fox's Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Sony's Annie all enter the marketplace in the next week. Respective total grosses stand at a strong $185.24 million for Big Hero 6 in 38 days and at an underwhelming $58.75 million for Penguins of Madagascar in 19 days.

Turning towards the platform front, Fox Searchlight's Wild took in $1.53 million from 116 locations. That gave the critically acclaimed drama starring Reese Witherspoon a healthy per-location average of $13,198 for the frame. Wild has grossed a promising $2.40 million in 12 days of platform release.

The Weinstein Company's The Imitation Game continued its slow expansion with $850,262 from 25 locations. The awards season hopeful starring Benedict Cumberbatch generated a strong per-location average of $34,010 for the frame. The 17-day platform total for The Imitation Game stands at $1.97 million.

Elsewhere in platform release, Warner's Inherent Vice debuted with $328,184 from 5 locations in New York and Los Angeles. While that gave the Paul Thomas Anderson directed film a very solid per-location average of $65,637 this weekend, it also represented a much slower start out of the gate than the $736,311 5 location launch of 2012's The Master. Inherent Vice may still have more mainstream appeal as it expands than The Master did, but this weekend's start wasn't the most promising initial sign. Anticipation for Inherent Vice has likely been limited somewhat by the film's mixed critical reviews (especially by Anderson's lofty standards).


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