The Interview gets mixed views

Updated: 2014-12-29 13:24

By Niu Yue in New York(China Daily USA)

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The Interview gets mixed views

Fans line up for a screening of The Interview in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles on Dec 25. The Sony Pictures film opened in more than 300 movie theaters across the United States on Christmas Day. Kevork Djansezian / reuters

Although Sony Pictures doesn't plan to seek permission to screen The Interview in China, many Chinese people have watched the movie through other channels.

The film, which was sold out at 331 theaters in the United States when it opened on Christmas Day, tells of a TV crew's fictional assassination of Kim Jung-un, leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The film became available on YouTube Movies, Google Play, Xbox Live and a dedicated website on Dec 24, and it was available on iTunes on Sunday. High-definition versions of the comedy were circulated in China after the movie was released. Chinese viewers, many of whom are intrigued by their mysterious neighbor and the hacking of Sony's e-mails, were quick to download.

People could watch the movie via cloud-sharing and peer-to-peer technologies. A version with Chinese subtitles had drawn more than 300,000 views by Dec 26, according to Reuters.

More than 1.5 million downloads have been made, mostly from outside the US, in the first two days of The Interview's release, according to Torrent Freak, a dedicated website on file sharing.

The movie features numerous jokes; rapper Eminem coming out as gay (which is not true in real life); Kim taking an American host for a tank ride; and bloody fighting scenes. The movie ends with Kim being killed seconds before he launches a nuclear missile attack as his favorite song Firework by Katy Perry is playing.

In leaked communications, Sony's international executives said the movie was "desperately unfunny", but some Chinese viewers liked it.

"It's very interesting," said Chen Jiagu, a 21-year-old university student in Wuhan cCity, Central China. "There are so many ironies."

Depictions about the DPRK in the movie also are real, said Fang Yuedi, a Beijing-based political columnist who has visited the country. "I have been to a 100,000-people parade in Pyongyang, and I don't see much exaggeration in the movie."

There also was criticism of the movie. While agreeing some scenes are realistic, Fang said characters of DPRK are too stereotyped.

"As long as you close your eyes, you would know how they would be like in the movie," said Fang.

Cao Wei, a Beijing-based tech blogger, said The Interview wouldn't have won so much attention had there not been the incident involving the hacking of Sony's internal e-mails.

"I just feel it is an ordinary American political spoof," said Cao.

Tension between Washington and Pyongyang over the movie raised expectations of some viewers.

"I had thought there would be some revelations about the reality in DPRK, but it turned out to be nothing but a popcorn movie," said Chen Meng, a 24-year-old university student based in Beijing.

"The TV crew in the movie can do nothing but tell obscene jokes, and the CIA gave them the mission to kill Kim Jung-un? It's just trying to make fun, but lacks logic."

The Interview, which had been rated by over 23,000 on Douban by Sunday, scored 7.1 out of 10, between "so-so" and "I would recommend it."

It was lower than Interstellar's 9.1 and The Hobbit 3's 8.5, but the movie still managed to score better than big productions such as Transformers 4, which got 6.6 but cost more than $200 million to make.

On, a similar website, The Interview scored 8.8, same as Interstellar's 8.8, and better than The Hobbit 3's 8.5.

After its original release date of Dec 25 was canceled by Sony because of reported threats to movie theaters showing it, the company went ahead and released it in theaters.

The movie was estimated to make more than $2.8 million by Sunday in theaters, according to estimates by Box Office Mojo.

Revenue numbers from online distribution have been unavailable.

The results were considered decent, given that the movie was originally planned for release in more than 2,000 domestic theaters, according to Business Insider.

Lu Huiquan in New York contributed to this story.