DIGGSTOWN (1992) — The ever troubled MGM, the only studio that was owned by a bank (Credit Lyonnais), had a terrible 1992 and studio head Alan Ladd Jr called Diggstown “the low point of ‘ 92. What happened with that film really devastated everybody.” The $17 million budgeted Diggstown received positive reviews and the studio thought they had a huge hit with the film, but Diggstown was so poorly marketed, the film proved to be a commercial disaster. The head of marketing at MGM, Greg Morrison was fired after the Diggstown debacle and replaced with former Orion marketing head Tami Masuda. Diggstown opened in 733 theaters to an awful $1,504,099 coming in #12 for the weekend, which was led by Unforgiven and Single White Female. Diggstown closed its run with $4,836,637. With revamped marketing and re-titled Midnight Sting, UIP released the film overseas, where it also tanked.
HACKERS (1995) — Spelling Films and United Artists financed Hackers for $20 million and United Artists signed British director Iain Softley onto the project after his first film, Backbeat was released in 1994. Softley was being courted by almost every studio, but took on Hackers after being offered $1 million and some back-end participation in the film and the soundtrack. Worried the public would not understand what a hacker is, the MGM/UA marketing department pushed the release date back, so the cyberpunk movie Johnny Mnemonic could hopefully ‘educate’ people on all these cyber shenanigans. ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ and ‘educate’ don’t belong in the same sentence and Hackers opened to a pitiful $3,173,101 in 1,812 theaters, when To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar led the weekend. Hackers declined 49% the following weekend to $1,618,206 and quickly left theaters with $7,563,728.
THE COUCH TRIP (1988) — The second film this week from director Michael Ritchie (Diggstown), this $19 million Dan Aykroyd vehicle was financed and distributed by Orion Pictures. The Couch Trip opened with a poor $3,351,891 coming in #7 for the weekend, led by Good Morning, Vietnam and Three Men and a Baby. The film saw a modest 37.7% second weekend decline to $2,089,062 but The Couch Trip closed with just $11,005,304.