Only a few hundred movie theaters screened Sony Pictures' controversial comedy "The Interview" on Christmas. It proved to be a wise risk.
The movie collected $1.04 million at the nationwide box office on Thursday, which would be a low number for a major studio picture's wide release but is quite respectable for a limited release. According to Box Office Mojo, 331 theaters screened "The Interview" Thursday, meaning each theater averaged a $3,142 return on the film.
Compared to other movies that opened on Christmas, that's a comparable figure.
The Weinstein Company's Academy Award-hopeful "Big Eyes" opened in 1,307 theaters, averaging $1,083 per site. Paramount's Mark Wahlberg vehicle "The Gambler" averaged $2,018 at 2,478 theaters on Thursday.
Overall, "The Interview" was low on the daily box office totem poll. The movie ranked 15th in terms of overall gross, collecting less than fellow limited release "The Imitation Game," which took in $3.07 million at 747 theaters ($4,119 average).
"The Interview," co-starring Seth Rogen and James Franco in a comedic plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, has created much controversy for Sony Pictures in the weeks before its opening. Threats from North Korea warned that American theaters screening the film on Christmas would be attacked, leading the studio to cancel its premiere.
In the end, only independent theaters screened the film on Thursday, with large theater chains opting to hold out.
The top-performing movie at the box office on Christmas was Universal Pictures' "Unbroken," which cleared $15.5 million on its opening day. That movie screened at 3,131 theaters nationwide.
Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.