It’s hard to say whether those who felt it was their patriotic duty to watch The Interview truly made an impact on international politics, but they definitely helped make 2014 a banner year for digital downloads. The Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy has earned $31 million in online rentals, contributing to the $533 million spent on electronic sales this holiday season. Even without The Interview boost, 2014 was expected to be a record-breaking year for digital downloads. And with the help of that controversial comedy, electronic sales of movies and TV grew 30 percent this year for a total of almost $1.6 billion.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest digital sellers included the highest-grossing films of the past two years, with Guardians Of The Galaxy, Maleficent, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Frozen, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, and Transformers: Age Of Extinction topping the list of popular downloads. Meanwhile, subscription services like Netflix grew 26 percent to earn more than $4 billion in 2014.
Despite the rise in electronic sales, it wasn’t all good news for the entertainment industry. Total home entertainment spending fell 1.8 percent to $17.8 billion. DVD and Blu-ray sales saw a nearly 11 percent decline, while physical video stores lost 27 percent of their revenue this year. Perhaps for their next film, Rogen and Franco can turn their satirical eye where it’s once again needed: the decline of the video store.