Plenty of skeptics wondered if the international crisis surrounding Sony’s new film “The Interview” might end up being a publicity boon for an otherwise mediocre film. One Cincinnati man certainly saw the business potential surrounding the film’s release, buying $650 worth of tickets with the intention of scalping them, only to be foiled when Sony released the film a day early online.

According to WCPO Cincinnati, Jason Best, the man behind the scheme, said his attempts to negotiate a refund from the Esquire Theater in Clifton, Ohio or movietickets.com, the site that handles the Esquire Theater’s online sales, were rebuffed.

“I saw all the hype about ‘The Interview’ on the 23rd and thought, ‘hey, folks are selling these tickets in other cities and it seems like that’s the thing to do right now so why not give it a shot so see how it goes,'” said Best, adding that he planned to use one ticket for himself.

“I thought I’d get my money back because the theater’s website *very clearly* said the tickets were refundable,” Best wrote in an email to WCPO.

But, it turns out, the Esquire doesn’t offer refunds for “special events,” which is how they categorized the Christmas screening of “The Interview.” Best said the theater never made that clear when he bought the tickets, and that he should be entitled to a refund like any other customer.

the interview scalper

Playing Devil’s Advocate for a minute, if Best had only bought a single ticket, I think he’d have reasonable grounds to ask for a refund. The theater’s refund policy reads as follows:

Tickets can be refunded at the box office (in person) up to 30 minutes prior to showtime purchased. Service fees are non-refundable. No refunds/ticket exchanges for Special Events.

Considering that the theater never told him it was a special event, and that Sony unexpectedly offered the same movie for more than half the price online, any reasonable consumer could ask for a refund under that policy.

And even if Best buying 50 tickets with the intent of scalping them was in bad faith, you could imagine a similar scenario in which someone buys 50 tickets for a birthday party screening, only to ask for a refund when realizing they could save money by streaming it on a projector at home.

In any case, the company’s president Gary Goldman said that the theater did not consider Best a customer, but rather a businessman attempting to recoup losses. Perhaps hoping to avoid a protracted legal battle, Goldman said they would donate the $650 to charity if Best would drop his refund request. His response?

Best said he can’t to do it, claiming he’s not in a position to be able to donate the entire amount and would like a full refund. He said he would be willing to donate $100 to charity in the name of the theater.

Hey, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime, pal.

[h/t WCPO]